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Theory and Practice of a 
Psychological Game 

This is a book for many, since most 
people are interested in people (in 
cluding themselves), and most enjoy a 
good game. Family Constellation is a 
psychological game which approximates 
life yet is simple enough in its ingre 
dients and explicit enough in its few 
rules to be learned quickly from this 
book. Before long you will think in 
terms of family constellations, and with 
their help figure out people, relation 
ships, conflicts and psychological puz 
zles. Mastery of the game can make a 
difference in your entire life. From a set 
of factual data about a person's brothers 
and sisters, parents, uncles and aunts, 
an expert in the game can predict the 
nature of interpersonal problems with an 
exactitude and specificity uncommon in 
psychological diagnoses. 

Dr. Toman developed the game and 
the theory behind it in ten years of clin 
ical psychological work during which he 
studied the family constellations of over 
400 persons. He presents in this book 
the eight basic sibling positions. He does 
this in extensive character portraits, 
comprising the enduring relationships to 
people and the impact of losses of these 
people, as well as attitudes toward phi 
losophy, religion, death, politics, work, 
authority, money and property. The 
sixty-four basic types of conflict between 
a person and his or her parents are out 
lined systematically. Then follow de 
tailed examples of how the game is 

( Continued on back flap ) 

150.15 T65f 65-19221 


Family constellation 



Drawings Mine* Okubo 

Theory and Practice of a Psychological 



By Walter Toman, Ph.D. 

Associate Professor of Psychology, Brandeis University 



Copyright 1961 

44 East 23rd Street New York 10, N. Y. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number : 61-17573 

Type set at the Polyglot Press, New York 
Printed in USA. 


In this book the reader will find a theory based on ten years 
of clinical psychological work during which the family constella 
tions of over 400 persons were studied. This includes the functions 
of each person's own sibling position, of his parents, and of his 
children (where possible also of his grandparents), as well as of 
losses within the family constellation. These elements have been 
integrated into a system comprising eight basic types of sibling 
position and sixty-four basic types of conflict possible between 
a person and his or her parents. 

The eight basic sibling positions are presented in the form of 
extensive character portraits. They depict, above all, the enduring 
relationships to people men, women and children and the impact 
of incidental losses of those people, but they also outline attitudes 
toward authority, property, work, politics; religion, and philosophy. 
These portraits are composites of trends and features taken from 
a number of people. Hence not every detail or concrete example 
applies in every single case. The details and examples will help, 
though, to reveal the core of the portrait that has been found to 
be consistent in all cases of a given sibling position. 

Something similar holds for the sixty-four types of conflict 
between people and their parents. However, only the basic aspects 
of these conflicts have been delineated; details have merely been 
sketched or have been omitted for the sake of clarity. Interpolation 
in cases of intermediary sibling position is also concisely presented. 
Interpretations of family constellations of specific clinical cases 
are demonstrated in several examples: these may be called the 
exercises. Chapters on symbolic notation and quantitative treatment 
of major aspects of family constellation round out the book. 

It is likely that the reader will discover some of his friends, 
relatives, family members, and even himself in this book. Some of 
the psychological problems and puzzles in his relationships with 
them may appear in a new light. Before long he may find himself 
thinking in terms of family constellations; with their help he may 



figure out persons, relationships, and conflicts, and wonder why he 
never thought of this before. But that is not so, he has thought of it, 
but he has done so tacitly, implicitly, and without much order. This 
book merely spells things out. 

Professional people among the readers (educators, ministers, 
physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, personnel 
managers) will not be deceived by the casual guise of this book. 
They will readily discover the body underneath. For, in a way, 
Freud, Adler, and Jung have been co-originators of the theory 
presented here. Freud has brought systematic attention to a person's 
relationship to his parents and has contributed conceptual vigor to 
the age-old quest for man's motivation. Adler was helpful with his 
early emphasis on character structure and (at least some) sibling 
positions. Jung has spotted the problem of pre-existent conflict 
between parents and their children, although his solution using 
concepts such as animus, anima, and actual parent leaves a little 
to be desired, not so much in principle as in practice. At any 
rate, after a while of reading and comparing, professional people 
working in areas related to psychology will probably find this book 
useful, at least until most of it has sunk in. 

Waltham, Massachusetts 
September, 1961 



1 The Nature of the Game 2 

2 Methodological Considerations 15 


3 The Oldest Brother of Brother (s) 24 

4 The Youngest Brother of Brother (s) 34 

5 The Oldest Brother of Sister (s) 44 

6 The Youngest Brother of Sister (s) 53 

7 The Oldest Sister of Sister (s) 64 

8 The Youngest Sister of Sister (s) 73 

9 The Oldest Sister of Brother (s) 83 

10 The Youngest Sister of Brother (s) 94 

11 Intermediary Sibling Positions 104 

12 The Only Child 114 

13 Twins 122 


14 Methodological Considerations 126 

15 Father the Oldest Brother of Brother (s) 129 

16 Father the Youngest Brother of Brother (s) 133 

17 Father the Oldest Brother of Sister (s) 137 

18 Father the Youngest Brother of Sister (s) 141 

19 Mother the Oldest Sister of Sister (s) 145 

20 Mother the Youngest Sister of Sister (s) 150 

21 Mother the Oldest Sister of Brother (s) 155 

22 Mother the Youngest Sister of Brother (s) 160 

23 Parents Additional Comments 165 

24 Children 169 

25 Losses 172 





26 A Boy in Psychological Treatment 181 

27 A Wife Returning to Her Parents 188 

28 A Criminal Prisoner 195 

29 A Mental Patient 203 

30 A Young Man Bereaved by Many Losses 208 

31 A Young Architect 213 


32 Algebra of Family Constellation 221 

33 Formulas of Family Constellation 228 








The Game in Brief 


The Nature of the Game 

We all like our games, whether they be tennis, gossip, golf, 
hunting, betting on horses or stocks, winning votes, customers, 
quizzes, laughs, attention, or what not. Some of them are more 
physical than others, although even domino or rummy is physical 
of sorts. The pieces have to be put in place, and cards have to be 
dealt, their faces hid from the partners, and the like. Some games 
are more complex and elegant than others. Compare boxing to 
fencing, checkers to chess, or even a poor ball game to a good 
one. And some games are more serious than others. Playing the 
stock market has probably led more often to pervasive success or 
individual catastrophies than has a tennis game, a good tease, or 
a yo-yo contest. 

Life as lived by people, however, is more complex than all of 
them. It is the game of a thousand games at once, played on all 
kinds of levels and with one, two, ten, hundreds, and even millions 
of partners all side by side. No single one of these games can be 
claimed to be a fair representative of a person's game of life, and 
most of them are not even adequate emissaries. Yet some of these 
games man is engaged in, or a certain sample of such games, may 
rank higher than other games or samples. To be played at all, some 
games simply require more of a person. The purely physical, 
simple, and irrelevant games will probably do less for us than the 
intelligent, complex, and articulate ones. The latter are more likely 
to approach a person's game of a thousand games, no matter how 
short they still fall of representation. 

An intelligent, complex, and articulate game may very well 


be a game with few and simple rules. As a matter of fact, it often 
is. Bridge, e.g., is composed of four sets of thirteen cards, each 
ranking in turn from thirteen to one in power. After shuffling and 
dealing, the four players try to make the most of the ranks and 
powers that they have in their hands. All the rest of the game as 
well as the entire science of bridge follow of necessity from these 
rules. Chess would be another such game, although chance is 
practically ruled out here. Whatever happens in chess is the doing 
of the players, whereas in bridge the players get any one of a 
practically infinite number of distributions of cards to play with. 

Are there such intelligent, complex, and articulate games also 
in the game of a thousand games? And are they ever serious enough 
by themselves to stand a chance, even a slight one, of being fair 
representatives of the players' lives? 

This is the question that I kept asking myself after finding 
too little satisfaction with many of the choices that psychiatry and 
clinical psychology have made in these respects. All psychological 
tests, including the projective tests, are games of that nature, i.e., 
supposedly samples of how the person in question is playing in real 
life, but not too many tests have lived up to their promises, or 
have done so only in a rather clumsy and, above all, quite limited 
way. Diagnostic schemes and interviewing patterns, oriented toward 
a person's affects and motives, may have been more successful, but 
often they are not very articulate in their rules and regulations. 
Particular players may hit the jackpot with a person in question, 
but often they do not know how they did it a predicament that 
cannot make for a very good game. And if these schemes and 
patterns are articulate, their compositions often tend to derive from 
a hodgepodge of reasons or no reason at all. 

Counselling of a certain kind, psychotherapy, and psycho 
analysis are about the only "games" that stand a chance. They 
do seem to sample a person's real life. Yet, they do not do so be 
cause the rules are few, simple, or even outspoken; rather they 
sample a person's real life because the players take their time, and, 
as they go along, implicit rules develop together with a handful of 
explicit ones. The latter, however, are heuristic principles rather 
than rules, somewhat like Darwin's survival of the fittest. If the 


therapist can "leave out his own problems'* from his patient's 
treatment one of the basic rules he is merely qualified to do 
the job. Psychological treatment is a never-ending test of this 
specification. And if the patient can really say everything that 
comes to his mind another rule in psychoanalysis and some forms 
of psychotherapy he is either completely gone or cured. 

We may call psychological treatment a game of a hundred 
games and concede that, in its course, they boil down to a few 
elemental ones dealing, among other things, with people (in the 
patient's life and mind) who nurture and feed, with people who 
are also, or chiefly, powers, and with people who have differentiated 
into men and women. But even these elemental games are inter 
mingled with each other and with circumstances of life and psy 
chological treatment in such complicated manners that it takes 
years of special training and experience before somebody has 
learned how to direct these components even reasonably well, 
and many more years before he would be considered fit to teach 
other prospective "leaders" in these cumbersome, infinitely im 
plicit and inarticulate ways. 

Yet there exists a game simple enough in its ingredients and 
explicit enough in its rules to be quick to acquire, even from a 
book; and yet a game capable of complexities comparable to those 
of bridge, and approximating in sample form even the game of 
a thousand games. What is more, the ingredients and rules are 
all around us, waiting to be picked up. (As a matter of fact, it is 
strange that the present book was not written a few decades ago; 
but it was not.) What is still more, every human being is a par 
ticipant in the game whether he likes it or not. Other games, such 
as golf, chess, gossip, politics, acting, banking, or dice, are at our 
discretion. We need not play any of them, if we do not want to. 
This is true even of the game of psychological treatment, at least 
in its professional form. Nobody has to undergo it, even if he 
should. But the ingredients and rules of the game I am suggesting 
are inevitably present in everybody's life. As a matter of fact, in 
this game the cards have already been dealt for a person by the 
time he wises up to it. There are limits within which he will have 
to play it, but he does have choices, and the most important deci- 


sions in this game are still his. Stranger still: the most important 
decisions in this game coincide with the most important decisions 
in his life, in his "game of a thousand games." The game I am sug 
gesting could, therefore, be quite relevant. Its mastery, even if 
accomplished only to a moderate degree, could make a difference 
in a person's entire life. It may not only be a fair sample of that 
life but even an integral part of it. 

The game is about the individual person, what he is like in some 
of his most basic aspects, what he does in some of the most crucial 
matters, and what he wishes to do. The principal ingredients are 
people those who have been living with him the longest, most 
intimately, and most regularly and all incidental losses of such 
people wherever they have occurred. First of all, the game con 
cerns a person's parents and siblings, but then also the parents* 
parents and siblings. (Needless to say that their numbers may vary 
greatly.) The rules of the game derive from the rules of combina 
tion of only two characteristics of these people: their sexes and 
their age ranks. 

Life, to be sure, is infinitely richer. But so is even a particular 
game of bridge. Its players are people in their own rights. They 
are more than the hands they are holding. They have different 
looks, plans, bank accounts, and different sentiments for each 
other. Not only that. Their set of cards is different from other sets 
of cards different in material, design, color, etc. and, even 
within each set, the cards are of different esthetic, emotional, or 
what have you, appeal. Yet it would hardly be a game of Bridge, 
if the cards were played by those appeals in addition to their 
defined powers if the players' bank accounts or jewels would 
interfere with the game, say if a player would buy cards from other 
people's hands, or bribe a partner, or play the cards that would 
look most beautiful with those on the table. 

All these aspects are accidental to bridge. And in the game 
to be introduced, all other characteristics of people, such as com 
plexion, intelligence, economic background, schooling, etc., as well 
as all those millions of specific experiences that make an indi 
vidual unique, are secondary. They will always matter, of Bourse. 
In radical cases they will even bias the outcome of a particular 


game, but that need concern us as little as the fact that some bridge 
games end by the table being overthrown. Rather it is hoped that 
a person catching on to the game will have little difficulty, before 
long, handling the accidentals in their proper perspectives. They 
will be part of the fun. 

This is the major idea of the "new" game: whatever people a 
person chooses for spouses, friends, partners, assistants, superiors, 
and the like, will be co-determined by the kinds of people a person 
has been living with the longest, most intimately, and most regu 
larly, and by all incidental losses of such people. In short: new 
interpersonal relationships will be co-determined by old ones. More 
precisely and elaborately: new (extra-familial, non-incestuous) 
interpersonal relationships will duplicate the earliest (intra-familial, 
incestuous) interpersonal relationships in degrees varying from com 
plete duplication to none at all. What is more: the closer the new 
relationships come in kind to old ones, to those already enter 
tained, other things being equal, the better will the person be pre 
pared for the new ones, and the greater their likelihood to last and 
to be happy and successful (Toman 1959 b, c, 1960 a, c). 

This thesis can be derived from psychoanalytic theory, more 
cumbersomely from a general learning theory, and even from com 
mon sense. Some emphasis will, of course-, have to be put on 
"other things being equal." As a matter of fact, critics may claim 
that this clause renders the thesis meaningless to begin with. Other 
things are never equal. The individual is beyond comparison. But 
things are not that bad. First, the very concept of an "individual" 
implies others to distinguish him from, and I would not know 
how this is possible without comparing and without resorting to 
general dimensions along which this can be done. Secondly, the 
thesis is claimed to apply only to a game. What this thesis and 
the entire game will do for life in general is up to the reader 
to decide, preferably, of course, after he has come to know the 

At any rate, a person can be the first, second, third, and so on, 
child of altogether one, two, three, and so on, children, and the 
sexes may be distributed in many different ways. Varying only posi 
tion find sex, as indicated before, will yield four different constella- 

tions with only two children (male-male, male-female, female-male, 
female-female), eight different constellations with three, sixteen 
with four, or, in short, 2 n constellations, where n is the number 
of children in the family. Given the sex of the person in question, 
the number of different sibling configurations of which he can 
be a member will be equal to n2 n " 1 . The same holds for each of 
his parents. Hence their match will be one of (n2 n ~ 1 ) 2 constella 
tions, if both of them have the same number of siblings, or one of 
nm2 n+m - 2 , if the numbers of their siblings differ. The same would 
also hold for any spouse, friend, partner, etc., with whom the per 
son in question might establish relationships, and for the parents 
of all such persons. In other words, the number of different con 
stellations of siblings and ancestry from which a given person may 
derive is legion, and any match he might enter with another per 
son will multiply the possibilities by the number of different con 
stellations from which that other person derives. Allowing for n 
to vary between 1 and 10 children, and observing only rank and 
sex, the number of possible configurations of ancestry of which a 
given match of two persons would be a sample outnumbers the 
population of the earth. Those concerned about the individual 
might want to take notice of that fact. Just as in Bridge, we will 
not run out of variety for a while. 



If both partners of a dual relationship, say of marriage, have 
had but one sibling each, and if we ignore their parents' sibling 
configurations, their match will be one of sixteen possible types 
of matches. Let us briefly pursue all of them and get a first im 
pression of what the game to come is all about. 

Suppose the older brother of a sister marries the younger sister 
of a brother. They are getting in marriage precisely the (peer) 
relation that they had at home. He is used to a girl his junior, and 
she to a boy her senior. Hence there should be no conflicts over 
their seniority rights. And both of them are used to the other sex. 
Hence they should have no great sex conflicts either. 

If the older brother of a sister chooses the older sister of a 
brother, they fall a little short of what they had been used to since 
their childhoods. Neither should have much trouble accepting the 
other sex, but each would try to be the older one for the spouse, 
and to transform him or her into a younger sibling. There will be 
rivalries over their seniority rights. Once they have children, how 
ever, preferably of both sexes, they may henceforth be happy with 
each other. At kst they have got their younger siblings. 


If the older brother of a sister marries the older sister of a sister, 
they too would tend to have conflicts over their seniority rights. 
Both were superior to their siblings in childhood. But the wife 
would also have some difficulty accepting the other sex. After all, 
they had been three girls in her family (mother, sister, and she 
herself) with only one male, father, to share. If they did not 
want to get into each other's hair, they had to learn how to like 
each other regardless of the man in the family. They had to be 
come somewhat more homosexual. If they could not work out such 
a solution, the girl would tend to be only too anxious to get a 
man of her own; which, by the way, is not the best condition for 
taking such an important step. 

If the older brother of a sister marries the younger sister of a 
sister, they would have no problem over seniority. The wife would 
be used to having a peer her senior, and her husband to having 
one his junior. Yet she is not quite so used to having a man. 

Similar arguments could be raised for the older brother of a 
brother who marries the older sister of a brother or of a sister, or 
the younger sister of a brother or of a sister. In these cases, it is 
he who would tend to have trouble accepting the other sex. Among 
those four, the match most alien to what the partners had been 
used to in their childhoods would be the marriage of an older 
brother of a brother to the older sister of a sister. Both of them 
would be likely to have trouble accepting the other sex, and in 
addition they would tend to be in conflict over their seniority 
rights. As soon as they have children, however, they get their 
longed-for juniors, although there will be a tendency for the father 
to gang up with the boys against the girls, and for the mother to 
do analogously with her daughters. 

Similar conditions would also prevail for the younger brother 
of a sister who marries the younger sister of a brother or of a 
sister, or the older sister of a brother or of a sister. Among these 
there is one combination that would come close to an optimal one 
again, namely the marriage between the younger brother of a sis 
ter and the older sister of a brother, although there will be a touch 
of a reverse authority relationship. The wife will tend to be some 
what dominant, and the husband dependent. 


Finally, the younger brother of a brother may marry the older 
sister of a brother or of a sister, or the younger sister of a brother 
or of a sister. Other things being equal, the worst of these and, 
at the same time 5 the worst of all sixteen combinations would be 
the match between the younger brother of a brother and the younger 
sister of a sister. Both of them would find it difficult to accept the 
other sex, and they would be in conflict over their juniority rights. 
Both want older siblings. Therefore not even a child of their own 
would make a difference, as it does with the older brother of a 
brother who marries the older sister of a sister. In fact, they would 
probably not want a child in the first place. But if they get one 
and one would be plenty they will tend to force that child into 
the role of an older sibling at the earliest possible time. This, of 
course, means trouble for all involved. 

Spouses, or partners in any kind of interpersonal relationship, 
do come not only from families with two children, but also from 
those with three, four or more children, and sometimes with only 
one child. It can be expected that, in cases of n > 2, the relation 
ships sketched above would tend to hold at least for the oldest 
and youngest siblings, while those in between would usually learn 
in their childhood how to assume double and triple roles. Con 
sequently they should be somewhat better prepared for all even 
tualities of matchmaking and other relationships than the oldest 
or youngest sibling are, although the latter may well be more 
exuberantly happy when they make the optimal choice of those 
open to them. 

The single child has only his parents to draw on, so to speak. 
This does not mean that children from other sibling constellations 
do not draw on their parents. On the contrary, parents are the 
most important people in any child's life. They are strong cards 
in this whole game. Psychologically speaking, parents are able to 
change their children's age ranks and even their sexes. What will 
happen in families with two, three, four, or more children, how 
ever, is that children turn to each other for what they cannot get 
from their parents. The parents, if they are happy with each other, 
will tend psychologically to move into the background. It is easy 
for the children to come to terms with such parents. Hence, the 



siblings will become relatively stronger determinants. Only parents 
who are unhappy with each other may keep their children anxiously 
focused on them, i.e., unable to find even fair satisfactions with 
each other. They are the children who, in their own choices of 
spouses, may try to break away from their parents' type of match 
and seek the opposite. Yet almost as often as not they will end 
up close to the match of their parents. They cannot quite manage 
to escape them, in a way, because their parents are the only ones 
they've got, irrespective of their conflicts. In large families this will 
particularly apply to the older children. The younger ones may, 
by "interpolating" their older siblings, spare themselves the full 
impact of their parents' conflicts. The same general trend holds 
for sibling configurations. People will be best used to, and pre 
pared for, those types of relationships to other people that they've 
had at home, although they might sometimes (i.e., in cases of 
strong parental conflicts) try very hard to have, and even be, the 
opposite of what they are. 

Well, normally the single child is in that position even with 


happy parents. Such a family could be called a mildly deficient 
one. The child has only his parents to turn to. He or she does 
not learn what children of larger families can learn from their 
parents: how to treat children. Therefore, singletons tend to look 
rather for a father or mother in a potential spouse than for a 
sibling and, more often than others, tend to be content without 
children of their own. They want to remain the children themselves. 
Under certain conditions, however, they may attempt to break 
out of it and have children of their own, occasionally even many 

There are other complications. Sometimes an oldest brother 
appears like a youngest. He wants guidance from his spouse even 
though she is a youngest sibling herself. One of the reasons may 
be that his father had been the youngest in his, the father's family, 
and died, or left, early. Sometimes a girl acts very much like a 
boy, because her father had come from a family of boys only, 
expected at least some boys of his own, got only girls, and had 
to transform one of them into some kind of a son. Not infrequently 
four children split up into two couples. And sometimes a middle 
brother behaves like an oldest, because his older brother happened 
to be of low intelligence, and his older sister ran away from home 
when she was twelve and he only six. This left him and his two 

Sometimes a greater than usual difference of chronological age 
between the partners may compensate for a rank conflict. Some 
times, the missing other sex, or missing siblings, may have been 
provided by cousins or good neighbors and friends. Conflicts over 
rank and sex may be mitigated by additional relationships estab 
lished with in-laws and friends. Marriage is not a priori exclusive 
of all kinds of friendships that may carry over or be newly formed. 
The partners may assemble an extended family around them with 
their friends and thereby get, in number and in kind, what they 
had at home. 

Things are not at all simple. But if they were, would it be a 
very good game? 

There is one more and quite important complication that has 
already been mentioned: losses. People that have been living with 


a person the longest, most intimately, and most regularly, may 
drop out for good at any point of a person's life. They may die 
or leave permanently. Or they may turn insane. They may go to 
jail for ninety-nine years. These drop-outs for good are by no 
means the only kind of losses that a person may suffer. There 
are all kinds of temporary and partial losses. People may leave 
the person in question for days, months, or years. They may leave 
and continue to provide (many, some, or few) reminiscences and 
reminders, such as pictures, letters, telephone calls, presents, etc. 
People may turn into physical offenders, sexual seducers or be 
come bed-ridden. Parents may turn traitors when they hand their 
child over to a hospital for surgery, to a dentist, a day-camp, and 
the like. Certain aspects of these people are being lost. What had 
been thought impossible, because it had never happened before, has 
become possible. If they did it once, they can do it again. They 
will never be quite the same. 

Yet all these temporary and partial losses must be assumed 
small compared to final losses, whether through death or any of 
its psychological equivalents. As a matter of fact, final losses come 
to bear on a person in question even if it is only his parents who 
have suffered them. If the father had been an orphan since early 
childhood, the person in question, while learning how to be like 
his father, will inevitably adopt some features of being an orphan. 
And a girl whose mother had been left by her husband cannot 
help but identify to an extent with a forsaken woman, her mother. 
This is not surprising, since parents will also transmit their rank 
and sex conflicts when their children would have none of their 
own accord. 

The effects of a final loss will ordinarily be the more severe, 
a) the less time has passed since the loss occurred; b) the earlier 
it has occurred in a person's life; c) the smaller the number of 
people that have lived with a person the longest, most intimately, 
and most regularly (in other words, the smaller his family); d) the 
greater the imbalance of sexes resulting from it; e) the longer the 
responsible survivors took to secure a full-fledged substitute; f ) the 
greater the number of losses, and the severer the losses, that have 
occurred before. 


The people that have been living with a person the longest, 
most intimately, and most regularly, constitute his family. Hence 
all patterns of sex, rank, and final losses prevailing among a per 
son's siblings, parents, and ancestors are patterns of family con 
figuration. The people mentioned, including all incidental losses 
of such people, constitute a person's family constellation. And this, 
precisely, is the name of the game to be introduced. 


Methodological Considerations 

Before we go into the details of the game, a few more remarks 
are necessary. One concerns the chronological ages involved in 
senior-junior relationships. If siblings are six or more years apart, 
they show a tendency of growing up like single children. Often 
it will take an older girl a trifle longer to become aloof than it 
will an older boy. If siblings are four to six years apart, they 
would be siblings all right, psychologically speaking. The older 
one would even be cognizant of the newcomer's sex. Hence it will 
make a difference whether it is a boy or a girl. If siblings are two 
and three years apart, the older one will at first be unlikely to 
notice much, if anything, of the sex of his rival. He is merely 
a threat to his power, to his command of the parents. When after 
some time the older one can recognize the younger one's sex he 
will either find that things are not so bad after all (if the younger 
one is. of the opposite sex) or that they are even worse than he 
had originally thought (if the younger one is of the same sex). 
If siblings are only about one year apart, the newcomer is not 
a rival as a power in general, but merely as an oral manipulator, 
as an eater and screamer. That, however, is an extremely vital 
threat. General power is versatile. Oral power is just about an 
all-or-none affair. 

As we have seen, chronological age does make a considerable 
difference in a senior-junior relationship. One could argue that 
things become more uniform as siblings grow older. Even siblings 
seven years apart will have lived together for thirteen years by the 
time the older one has turned twenty. Hence they must have got 


used to some kind of senior-junior relationship and recognition of 
the other sibling's sex. And siblings only one year apart will not 
forever remain the vital threat to each other that the older one 
perceived at the beginning. Broader power aspects and even the 
sex of the other person will be "recognized" to some extent. 

On the other hand, the first years are, of necessity, the most 
formative years. If the members of the immediate family are the 
only people who matter or are really known, their impact on the 
individual in question must be considerably greater than if they 
had mattered and had been known along with many other people. 
And anything new the individual learns about the members of his 
immediate family is being grafted on earlier, more radical, and 
more pervasive, experiences of them. 

This is to say that the older sibling will have established more 
of his own individuality and independence, the longer the younger 
sibling takes to come into psychological existence. The newcomer 
can do less harm to him, although the conscious experience of 
whatever threat there is will tend to increase with the age gap. 
But the smaller their age gap, the longer (at a given later age) 


will the older sibling have been exposed to the younger sibling. 
They will be better used to each other, at least in all those aspects 
that do not tap, or border on, the original conflict. And this will 
be mutual, since the older one will generally tend to set the tone 
for the younger one. The junior will learn from his senior how to 
interpret their relationship to each other. In short, the forces at 
work are somewhat complementary. Perhaps one could summarize 
it this way: the smaller the age gap between siblings, the more 
severe their conflicts with each other, but the greater also their 
inclination not to let go of each other in later life. 

In addition there is a statistical reason permitting us to un 
derplay the specificities of chronological age. Extreme age gaps 
are relatively rare among siblings. Few are separated from their 
nearest brothers and sisters by a year or less excluding twins 
which are a special case altogether and few by as many as seven, 
eight, or more years. 

Another remark concerns the sexes. By his physiological make 
up, a boy may be more or less of a male, and a girl more or less 
of a female. Of two siblings of the same sex, the one with the 
greater proclivity for transformation into the opposite sex will 
usually be chosen by his family members for such a purpose. But 
even with two siblings of opposite sex, physiology may make for 
a very masculine girl and a very feminine boy. Both of them 
would tend toward manifest homosexuality in later life. Sometimes 
a parent's unusual physiological make-up may affect the children 
psychologically, although the very fact that he or she has become 
a parent almost precludes the worst. In other words, male and 
female is no all-or-none proposition either. But again we can 
assume that the vast majority of persons will tend to act and feel 
like their sex. 

Similar considerations would hold for losses. Death (or its 
equivalent) of a given member in a person's family constellation, 
at a given time, may still occur in many different forms long fore 
seen or entirely unexpected, as a clean or a messy affair, wished 
for to various degrees by the person in question or by other 
members of the family, hence leaving severe or mild guilt in the 


loser, or none at all. The loss may affect many people or merely 
the person in question and perhaps his siblings. It may be a loss 
to the nation, or an insignificant loss, etc. 

All these considerations will also hold for friendships and 
marriage, the relationships that a person may enter of his own 
accord. What is more: with these, as well as with all relationships 
in the original family, chronological age, physiological background, 
and the circumstances of losses, and even different ethnic and 
legal conventions, will come to play in a variety of forms when 
the crude data are the same. They will vary around the crude 
data, so to speak. 

It should also be understood that it will make a difference whether 
an oldest brother has had a father who was a youngest brother him 
self, or a middle brother, or an oldest, or whether he has had a mother 
who was the oldest sister of nothing but girls, or nothing but boys, or 
an only child. A middle sister of two brothers will, again, be a 
different person depending on whether her parents were middle 
siblings, too, or oldest, or youngest, whether rank and sex conflicts 
prevailed among them or not, and whether losses decimated her 
parents' families in their early lives, or later on, or not at all. 
In other words, the parents' sibling configurations, losses, and the 
characters of the grandparents are powerful determinants of peo 
ple's own characters. And their grandparents' characters, in turn, 
would be a function of their own sibling configurations, losses, 
and of their parents' characters. Moreover, the characters of a 
person and his parents and grandparents are also determined by 
hereditary givens, appearances, resemblances to other family mem 
bers, social and economic factors, and all kinds of other events 
and circumstances. But all these influences tend to dwindle in effec 
tiveness, the farther back they have been exerted. Yet, very specific 
influences may still persist even if a person's grandparents only 
had been directly affected. 

Finally, the psychological existence or non-existence of any 
member of a person's family constellation may mean very different 
things. A mother may be around only very sporadically, say for 
the weekends, or she may be omnipresent, unable to let go of her 
child even for a minute, or she may be around, but insist that the 


children always play by themselves. A father, when at home, may 
either be available or, in other cases, absorbed by his stamp 
collection or asthma. Or when he is out at work much of the day, 
the mother may act as his representative, as his long arm, so that, 
psychologically, he is never gone. An older brother may grow up 
in a boarding school, a younger sister may be put up with an 
aunt for parts of every week, etc. 

Yet in order to speak intelligibly about the basic plays of the 
game of family constellation, these second and third order de 
terminants will have to be ignored. They would tend to cancel 
each other's effects anyway, with groups of people, and the 
general features of the basic plays would become apparent. But 
once the reader begins to try his own hand in this game, he is 
probably faced with individuals rather than groups, and inter 
polation will be necessary. In practice, this is the essence of the 
game. The player learns how to combine the basic types of plays 
to the best of his knowledge and skill. He may have to consider 
factors that are not essential to the game in general, but that 
make a considerable difference in a particular case. He may have 
to use gamesmanship in every sense of the word. As a matter of 
fact, I hereby advise the reader to take nothing whatsoever for 
granted that has been, and will be, said in this book. In rare 
cases, red shoes, snow, a dime lost or found, or a certain smile, 
may throw an all-important switch in the game. And we never 
know in advance whether a particular case is a rare one or not. 

The general advice to the reader is this: establish first the 
sibling position of a person in question and all incidental losses 
that he or she may have suffered in early life. If the descriptions 
given in this book do not fit, consider the possibility that a per 
son's siblings may have formed subgroups. Inquire into the age 
differences and remember that gaps of over six years make for 
two single children, at least to some extent, rather than ordinary 
siblings. Or inquire into special events, particularly separations and 
losses, that might have had effects. If that does not account for 
discrepancies, inquire about the sibling positions and losses of 
the person's parents, consult the principal patterns of interaction 
between parents and children also given in this book, and try to 


understand what kind of match the parents' marriage might have 
been and which of their conflicts they might conceivably have 
transmitted to the person in question. If that is not enough, do 
the same with the person's grandparents, or establish at least 
whether they had been lost during the early lives of the parents. 
If the person in question is married, by all means inspect the 
spouse too. And if they have children, investigate to what extent 
the children duplicate their parents' sibling configurations, and 
how much the children may have added to, or subtracted from, 
the conflicts already in existence. And if all that does not help, 
look for persons other than immediate members of the family who 
may have played an intrinsic part in a person's life. Sometimes, 
however, the investigation may be shortened by a quick glance at 
some of a person's friendships and love-relationships. These in 
dicate that he, or she, is acting "appropriately" after all, so that 
the reader may proceed with the speculations recommended. 

It should also be understood that the character portraits of the 
major types of sibling positions and the sketches of their inter 
action with different types of parents will tend to mellow some 
what in time, provided all goes well for the persons involved. 
Psychotherapy would also work in that direction. Under stress 
or after losses, however, many features may reappear more sharply. 
The portraits themselves could be considered the major hands 
of the game. The reader will find various plays intimated and 
indicated for all of them as well as for the sketches of interaction 
between a person and his, or her, parents. 

While family constellation is being presented as a game or as 
a theory with exercises, it is actually founded strongly on empirical 
evidence. The portraits of the major sibling positions are com 
posites of features all of which have been found present in groups 
of at least six cases for each type of sibling position. Those cases 
had to fulfill the following criteria in addition: 1) Their parents 
had to be reasonably well matched. Cases of complete rank and/or 
sex conflict prevailing among the parents were eliminated. At least 
one of the parents was to have found a duplicate of one of his 
sibling relations with his spouse. 2) Neither lie person in question 
nor the parents were to have suffered early losses of parents or 


siblings. If such a person or one of his parents had lost a parent 
before they were sixteen years old or a sibling before they were 
six years old, they were eliminated from the sample. Only the 
references to losses made in the character portraits of the major 
sibling positions (as well as those to friendships and marriages 
that would tend to fail) were drawn in part from the eliminated 
cases. And only the brief hints at trends shown in the practice 
of psychological counselling or psychotherapy were taken from 
other sources altogether: my colleagues and those working under 
my supervision. 

The persons studied (over the past ten years) had been in 
psychotherapy of various duration or in psychoanalysis with the 
author (51 cases), in brief contact with him for diagnostic evalua 
tion (58 cases), sought out for psychological interviews in guidance 
centers and clinics (45 cases), and among his friends and ac 
quaintances (135 cases); or they had been in psychological coun 
selling or psychotherapy with persons supervised by the author 
(108 cases). From these cases (insofar as they had not suffered 
early losses) have also been recruited at least two for each of the 
64 major types of conflicts that can arise between a person's 
sibling position and that of his parents (see also page 128). 


Major Types of Sibling Position 


The Oldest Brother of Brother(s) 

He is the leader, the master of other men, whether he shows 
it by force or cunning. He is in charge. He is in control, not so 
much of a field of work or endeavor as he is of other people in 
that field. He can tell people what to do, again either directly or 
by clever soft-sell. He knows how to take them. He is on good 
terms with other males, especially when they are not older brothers 
themselves. As a matter of fact, the only one he cannot stand in 
his immediate vicinity and will have to get out of the way is 
another oldest brother of brother (s), no matter how well he may 
understand him otherwise. 

He also tends to be a good worker where he chooses to, and 
a good leader of work, of special enterprises, expeditions, or any 
condition where work and leadership can be combined. He can 
inspire others, take the greatest hardships upon himself, and be 
come even stronger as he does so. He can chastise himself and 
feel the delights of power over his own flesh and human fragility. 
Yet he will only be the second-most daring, if it comes to matters 
of life and death. It is as if he felt, unconsciously, that his survival 
is more important than that of any single one of the people he 
leads. If one of the people should be in deadly danger, how 
ever, he will come to his rescue even if it may cost his own life. 
Or he may organize the victim's rescue and be active in it, inspiring 
his followers to do likewise or, preferably, even more. But he 
does want to get the credit. Not necessarily in simple terms. He 
does not have to have eye-witnesses, but the public, history, or 


some master superior even to him and in the position of passing 
credit should notice and take record. 

He can accept the authority of a superior male, his boss, his 
teacher, his political, ideological, technical, or literary "father," 
but he will tend to do it in one of two ways. He will either become 
like that authority figure. He will mold himself after this image 
and conduct his task, whatever it is, completely in the spirit of 
his superior. In a sense, he may be more papal than the pope 
himself and thereby make the pope superfluous of sorts. It will 
suffice for the pope to stand on a pedestal, superb but without 
motion, while he, his fervent disciple, does the work. The superior 
can safely relegate all authority to him and need not regret it. 

Or he, the oldest brother of brother (s), will operate with a 
vengeance. This is the alternative. From the very beginning, lie 
will look for loopholes in his idol's authority and infiltrate his 
idol's mind through those loopholes rather than by overall and 
whole-hearted identification. He will nag at him secretly, belittle 
him, and attempt to discard him bit by bit. When the time has 
come, he may get rid of him in a burst, throw him out of office, 
or worse. In either case, however, he is ready to assume the role 
of authority and competence himself. 


One might say that a youngest brother, though his senior hy 
chronological age, would be the more compatible boss altogether. 
The boss, then, will really want to be guided by his assistant or 
disciple, although he would get very angry if this became apparent 
to the latter, or if he merely knew that other people thought so. And 
his assistant, the older brother of brother (s), will succeed in 
guiding his chief, if only he does not make it too obvious, re 
nounces some of the credit he might deserve, and listens sym 
pathetically to the meandering ideas of his boss. 

The oldest brother of brother (s) is also the person who builds 
up property spiritual, industrial, agricultural, financial, or do 
mestic. He likes to keep his environment in order. He is the one 
who would tend to want a room of his own to begin with, and 
from early childhood on. His house should be in tiptop shape, 
literally and budgetwise. He only likes things that are within his 
reach. He hates to live off capital or to be in debt. To be sure, 
debts can be very different things in different cases. He may 
incur debts, but then they will only add up to a fraction of the 
collaterals at his disposal. Or he may despise finances and every 
day reality altogether, but stay far ahead of his moral, intellectual, 
or spiritual commitments. He is context-bound. He can appraise 
any contribution to any of the wealths of mankind as to its worth. 
Generally that includes his own contributions, although secretly 
he would tend to be somewhat partial and believe that his is really 
the very best. He has a sense of pragmatism even in the highest 
realms of theory, an almost unfailing ear for redundancy, a solid 
memory for relevant facts and events regardless of whether the 
sciences, the arts, or any kind of engineering, human and technical, 
are concerned. He spots the people who are his like in those 
matters, and while he would not want to be too close to them 
personally, he can establish excellent rapport with them via the 
pieces of work, thought or art that are at stake. He likes clean 
facts and tight concepts, and he hates big words, at least as long 
as they are empty or merely not as full as they pretend. 

He is a tough guy with women. He will not fall for any of 
tkem^ Jbtit te (Wilted and thrilled, though outwardly unwincing, 
if they faB for him. He will tead to treat girls like younger brothers, 


expect them to live up to his assignments, to do even better than 
males, to admire only him, or certainly no one else, and to be 
content with very little in return. Women should be happy to be 
able to be of service to him; there is no greater reward. He wants 
them to be mothers to him, but he would deny vehemently that 
this is the case. He will prefer them to be slim and boyish rather 
than heavy, voluptuous, and maternal, as if to demonstrate even 
this way that he really is not looking for a mother. But, once he 
has married, a good portion of his discontent with his wife is 
precisely that she does not betray her looks. In many cases she 
really is not much of a mother. 

The best match he can make would be a girl who is the 
youngest sister of brother (s), one who has learned to be somewhat 
like a boy herself yet admires and adores boys. No, just one boy: 
him. She should be his inferior in two ways in being a youngest 
and in being "only" a girl. She should have learned at home to 
do everything possible for boys, but not as a mother, rather as 
a cutie who has been beaten into it. She must be kind and catering 
out of timidity. And she should be a virgin. 

Ordinarily, a girl who has been the youngest after several boys 
only would hardly buy that, unless she has been struck by losses. 
Usually she has been spoiled rather than has suffered losses or 
force. Instead of being coerced to adore and obey males, she has 
learned to be adored by them. But compromises are conceivable. 
He could admire her for her (elf-like) beauty and make her into 
a star for everybody to see and envy, as long as she concedes to 
this without reserve. And she, who has usually never been short 
of doting males, may be able to tolerate his reluctance to let her 
be a woman in every way she has been used to. After all, he lets 
her be beautiful. He has even taken this most important of all 
women's concerns in his own hands. What more can she want? 
Where there are greater difficulties, her brothers may help her 
get over the hump with him. They may support her and, if neces 
sary, interfere. They may put pressure on her husband to behave 
toward her as they did, and coming from males (perhaps even from 
the oldest of her brothers if she has several of them) he may yield. 
As a matter of fact, he might seek the friendship of one or two 


of the brothers, although probably not of the oldest. Yet if his 
wife has only one older brother and no other siblings, then even 
this brother could be compatible. The brother, in spite of his 
greater interest in girls or his own wife, might still find something 
in a friendship with his sister's husband. That husband may appear 
to him to be more of a male than he is himself. After all, he had 
been in control of other male peers. He had not been exposed to 
the frustrations involved in dealing with a younger girl whom he 
was supposed to protect and be kind to. The brother could learn 
from his sister's husband how to be tough with women. So he 
thinks. He will plead for compromises, but if the sister does find 
her master at last, this is also fine with him. 

Other possible matches would be the oldest sister of brother (s), 
although both of them would have difficulty accepting their part 
ner's seniority. However, since he is partly and secretly looking 
for a mother the only female he had had in his family the 
older sister may be compatible. This would hold particularly as 
long as they divide their empires, so that he reigns, say, in the 
business world and on his job, whereas she does so inconspicuously 
at home, with their home finances and with their children. Girls 
who have been middle siblings would also be eligible as long as 
they have had at least one sibling relationship that duplicates what 
they get in marriage: a brother who is their senior. The youngest 
sister of sister (s) only would have no rank-conflict with the oldest 
brother of brother (s), but both of them are in for trouble in 
accepting the other sex. This is generally worse than if only one 
of them had that trouble. An pnly child might also be com 
patible, provided she comes from well-matched parents, preferably 
from a father who has been the oldest brother of sister (s) and 
a mother who is the youngest sister of brother (s). Such an only 
girl would have a little trouble getting used to living with a peer, 
but her experiences with her parents are likely to have been 
fortunate, and her parents have been peers to each other. Yet in 
such, cases one ought to wonder why the parents had no more 
than one child. 

Barring other circumstances, the poorest of all possible matches 
the oldest brother of brother (s) can enter would be that with 


the oldest sister of sister(s) only. The spouses would have a full 
rank and sex conflict, and their quarrels may be unending. 

The arrival of children, especially of boys, would make life 
easier for the oldest brother of brother (s), under all circumstances, 
and for his wife too, unless she comes from a family of girls only. 
For the optimal match that he can make with the youngest sister 
of brother (s) the optimal configuration of children would be a 
boy first, then a girl; or boys first, then a girl or two; or boys 
first, then a girl, then boys, then a girl again. 

Once he has a family, the oldest brother of brother (s) will 
take pains to care for it with plans ranging way into the future. 
He will maintain order and discipline and reign somewhat self- 
righteously. This may earn him the reputation of an autocrat, a 
Victorian father, particularly if he has a large number of children 
and if they have not come in the most favorable sequence. Sooner 
or later, protests against him will be heard, or tacit and overt 
obstinacy may become the habit. Except for the oldest son, the 
children will tend to feel poorly understood, and their mother may 
even confirm them in this attitude and side with them, unless she 
is an oldest sister herself. In that case both parents may get 
estranged from their children in later life and assume a common 
front at least against some of them. 

His best male friend is often a youngest brother of brother (s), 
although he may well achieve the best understanding and una 
nimity par distance with an older brother or an only child. He 
will have a feeling of trust in the capacities and competencies of 
that person, will let him work on his own and merely try to establish 
the fact, from time to time, that they are still in agreement. With 
youngest brothers of brothers, however, he can really cooperate. 
He can guide them, and they will take his leads, socially and at 
work, even if under the guise of mild protests. An oldest brother 
of sister (s) would not qualify too well as a friend; he would 
rather tend to find himself a girl for a friend. But if he had been 
discouraged in his relations to the opposite sex at home, he might 
well seek the friendship of this admirable senior of brothers 
who is so manly, whereas he, thanks to the company of sisters 
only, does not know too well how to be a male. While his friend 


has learned to handle and control even boys, he himself did not 
succeed with a single one of his sisters. But as he is learning from 
him how to be a male, he may well adopt to some extent the role 
of a girl, the only role he saw being played by peers at home, 
and his friend might buy that. 

Boys who have been middle brothers may also qualify, es 
pecially if they have had an older brother. A youngest brother of 
sister (s) only would have no seniority conflict with the oldest brother 
of brother (s), but the latter may find himself transformed to some 
extent into an admirable and awe-inspiring sister in his friend's 
mind and be expected to be gentle, kind, and tactful, all things that 
he would not particularly care to be, least of all when the demands 
are explicit. Somewhere, though, he might even like that idea. At 
home he has more often seen his mother than his father treat and 
handle his younger brothers. In part he must have learned from 
her what he can do so well: control juniors. But then he must 
also have felt and acted somewhat like a mother toward them. So 
he is not entirely unprepared for the present friend, the youngest 
brother of sister (s). 

. Generally speaking, friendships tend to be a strong and welcome 
supplement of marriage. If the oldest brother of brother (s) can 
keep his friends, he will find it easier to get along with his wife. 

The greater the number of brothers he has had, the harder will 
it be for an oldest brother to settle for a girl, to get married and to 
stay married. The same will also be true of his friendship with 
males. One friend might be too little. A gang of friends would ap 
pear to be more satisfying. They may be juniors to various degrees, 
youngest brothers, middle brothers, or close to the top, and brothers 
of girls as well as of boys. In a group of friends there is room for 
many kinds of relationships at once. Even another oldest brother 
of brother (s) might be tolerable, although this could well tend 
to split the gang in two. Sometimes the success of marriage depends 
on the male friends his wife will let him be off with or bring home. 
fat other cases, the oldest brother of brother (s) may not even vie 
for marriage, Nor may he look for male friends. Instead, he may try 
to* have many gjrb at once, and since he cannot keep up an affair 
H of them at once, he may put them to work for him as sec- 


retaries, salesgirls, waitresses, dancers, or actresses. Passingly he 
may consume one or the other of them as women, occasionally feel 
he has to have had all of them at least once, but even so they would 
remain "younger brothers." Slim and boyish, obedient, respectful, 
and efficient, they are hardly real girls. They earn their living by 
what they put out rather than by what they are, although they 
should be pretty. The last thing he could stand of them would be 
their announcement that they are pregnant. They should produce 
anything whatsoever but offspring, regardless of the fact that 
women are unequalled in precisely this respect. 

Politically the oldest brother of brother(s) believes in strong 
leadership, elites, even dictatorships, if he thinks they are neces 
sary; he believes in sound investment policies, quality goods, in 
speed, accuracy, and simplicity of administration, planning for 
years ahead, lawfulness of actions and procedures, maintenance of 
principles rather than customs and comfort of the constitution 
rather than good sentiments. He may be a revolutionary in his 
young years, but he will come to terms with the complexities of 
reality sooner than others and end up a conservative in the better 
sense of the word. He is reluctant to rely on outside help, whether 
foreigner domestic. He would rather give help, even if it means 
hardship and toil for him or those he represents. If antagonized, he 
may turn into a stubborn and merciless avenger and, if ever put on 
trial, he tends to ask for no mercy for himself. If active in politics, 
he will find himself unpopular with the crowd, at least in Western 
style democracies and while in office. He needs straw men and vote 
getters. Often he prefers to work behind the scene altogether, as 
the expert diplomat, economist, lawyer, financier, or master 

In religion, he is for being without a mediator between himself 
and God, or for being that mediator himself. He is a deist who 
believes that God set the world right at the beginning, and that 
it has been functioning fairly rationally ever since without him. 
Or a moralist who insists that God's strongest manifestation is 
mankind's moral code. Or an atheist who recognizes the fair order 
governing the universe and its miraculous secrets, but who would 
not have any kind of supreme being in charge of its creation and 


maintenance. Or a materialist who makes matter his God (or god 
dess), but claims its laws to be of iron. There is one thing the oldest 
brother of brother (s) can rarely be: an ordinary pious person. 

In philosophy, he is the system builder, or at least the believer 
in system building. He does not care too much for history of phi 
losophy; there are too many capricious accidentals. Philosophy 
should be man-made, and in every nut and bolt his hand should be 
apparent. If there is fault or contradiction, discard the system. 
Build another one. Or cut off its sick arm, and do not let another 
arm grow. Make it yourself, of steel, wood, or stone. As a practical 
philosopher he believes in common sense, clear purposes and 
relationships, and hard cash. If he should turn romantic, or in 
trospective, or existentialist, he will not merely be the practitioner, 
but be the attorney, the man who forces feelings and experiences 
into a creed or constitution. 

Death is merely the end of life, as far as he is concerned. 
There is little, if anything, thereafter, no matter how pleasant, rea 
sonable, or heavenly this non-existence may be. But one's works 
might live on, or one's memory might, and if he has had a family, 
they will do so too. As a matter of fact, they may even have to be 
cared for, and hence one's property will have to be disposed of. The 
oldest brother of brother (s) tends to draw a will long before his 
death has become likely. He is seldom taken by surprise. He has 
not only built up an estate but kept it in good shape and seen to it 
that its orderly transfer after his death and its good maintenance 
are guaranteed. Usually he has even taken care of his own funeral 
and sometimes written his own obituary. 

Losses of immediate family members or dear persons will be 
"handled" efficiently and in "good composure, with little overt 
mourning, although the experience of loss is stronger underneath 
and more specific than it looks. Guilt will be manifest in proportion 
to the degree of unconscious ambivalence toward the person lost. 
Yet the guilt is usually under control. It does not set him up for 
more losses or punishment, as it tends to do with others. 

The most painful loss will be that of his mother or motherly 
Mends* As for the mother, her exit leaves the survivors in the 
family without a woman. The loss entailing relatively the greatest 


guilt will be that of a younger brother or a dear (male) friend 
acting such a part. Yet even that loss can be dealt with more or 
less consciously, partly because the oldest brother of brother (s) can 
still remember the time when his wish to be without junior peers 
had actually been gratified, the time before they had been born. 
He knows what to wish for. They should go where they came from, 
to hell, if must be. (In contrast, the younger brother of brother (s) 
can never quite formulate such a wish.) On the other hand, the 
loss of a girl, sometimes even of his spouse, tends to affect him 
less than the other losses. He will observe the conventions of mourn 
ing and wait dutifully before attaching himself to another female, 
but he does not appear to be shaken. He has behaved that way even 
with temporary losses, with limited separations from girls. They 
were separations for good as far as he was concerned. He himself 
would break off relations with girls who "left him" just a little too 
often or for a little too long. 

If ever he gets to receive advice, counsel or psychotherapy, he 
is inclined to dislike his dependence on another person. This may 
keep him from seeking it in the first place. If in the position of 
giving help or advice himself, he tends to take over and manage 
too much, to fare better with males than with females, and best 
with oldest brothers or only children. 


The Youngest Brother of Brother(s) 

He is a capricious and willful man, a person who can surprise 
and amaze his elders but also put them at a loss, annoy, and an 
tagonize them. This may have become apparent shortly after birth; 
already he began to look more vigorous but also was more difficult 
to keep in bounds than his brother (s). On the surface he gives the 
impression as if he would tolerate nobody above him, as if in 
dependence and freedom are among the greatest of his concerns. 
He will give in to no one. Yet on closer inspection it usually turns 
out that he needs the others in order to react to them. If he were 
really independent and free, if nobody would curb him, he would 
not know what to do. He will seek out domains where he can 
trespass, and people with whom he can pick arguments, or conduct 
elaborate, although meandering, conversations. He needs elders 
in order to liberate himself from them, to break out of their 
control. But almost as soon as he has done so, he will rush back 
into their arms. 

He is an irregular worker, sometimes quite excellent in his 
achievements, and other times lousy, dragging, or altogether un 
productive. Much depends upon his moods, and these depend upon 
the people he is working with and on his friends and his family at 
home. He does not hesitate to unwrap his domestic problems right 
on the boss' table, nor to bring his working problems home. He is 
good at work, both when he can compete or when somebody superior 
in states, wisdom, skill, and the like is watching. If someone has 
will have one too, and it may come close in quality to 
id^a but seldom reach it. If nobody has an idea, he 


usually has none either, or one that is quite useless. If another 
person speaks in a meeting, introduces a new subject, wins laughs, 
etc., he will try to do likewise, no matter how small his qualifica 
tions. Or he will burst out with inappropriate truths. On the other 
hand he may contribute nothing in a meeting where he would be 
perfectly qualified to speak. He just does not think of it or does not 
like the atmosphere of the meeting. 

He is at his best in free artistic or scientific endeavors, where 
his external environment and livelihood are taken care of by an 
impersonal institution, a wise or kind sponsor, or a motherly female. 
He may turn out to be a genius, if his talents are sufficient and a 
few carpets are laid out before him, or at least not taken away. 
Even then he may wonder to the end of his life, whether he should 
not have chosen something altogether different for a profession. 
He depends on opportunities, but will do little to create them him 
self. Sometimes he succeeds as an entertainer or actor, although he 
is not quite convincing to a part of his audience, most of them 
women. To them he is somewhat of a fool in matters of courtship, 
love, and understanding of women. 

He is not a leader. If in a position of authority, he will appear 
to lack stability, justice, and insight into almost all problems in 
volved, although he may get the gist of som of them quite well 
and establish fairly good relations with some of his "subjects." 


The latter are likely to be those who act as secret seniors toward 
him, as older brothers, fathers, or, in spite of their male sex, as all- 
accepting mothers. Females working under his authority will have 
no easy life unless they are ready to play mother in ever so many 
ways. They must be willing to listen to his reflections, to do personal 
favors for him get him his coffee just right, sew a loose button, or 
remind him of crucial dates and to be, or pretend to be, thor 
oughly enchanted by him, not so much as a man but as a delightful 
genius. In return he will be generous with subordinates, not insist 
too hard on order, regularity, discipline, or speed, and thereby 
wreck his own position, unless they are the right kind of subjects 
to begin with: men and women who really love to take responsibil 
ities upon themselves and permit him by their own sweet persua 
sion, cunning, or straight force to insist only on those of his ideas 
and ways that seem really worthwhile. If they are not the right 
kind of subjects, if they take him at face value, both they and their 
boss may be fired, or the institution he heads or the business he 
controls will disintegrate. 

He not only can accept but he loves authority, provided it is 
not too demonstrative. With a kind and understanding senior he 
may last forever, get into no conflicts at all, admire his idol no 
end, defend him against any kind of criticism, and still never 
manage to mold himself after him. He will perpetually want him 
to his avail as the director of his own life and efforts, as the person 
to submit to, and even suffer from. If the senior dies, he will not 
take his place; instead he may enter an excessive period of mourn 
ing. Only failure to hit upon such an ideal authority who might 
even be a female will make him rebellious against those imperfect 
ones whom he can and does find. He will then be an incessant 
trouble maker, a hopeless dreamer and romantic, a person who 
wants everything everywhere at all times. He might arouse sym 
pathy and gain a certain kind of following during uneasy times. 
In a revolution, he may become a leader of some stature, but he 
wffl fail as soon as peace and order have been restored, as soon 
as the revolution has accomplished its aims. The one exception is 
ffcat tjhe teie leader of the revolution, an elder by character, likes 
toj jmi^istancb him and uses him as his pet executive. 


The youngest brother of brother (s) does not create nor even 
preserve property and estates to any great extent. In all walks of 
life he takes and spends easily, with no concern where the next 
donation will come from, or whether he will ever get a return on 
what he spends. He lightly squanders the savings of others, his 
family's inheritance, or the money he has been making by his 
own wits and talents. He will make fabulous presents on the spur 
of the moment. He hates all curtailments by law, the administration, 
or "misers." He will live beyond his means and reach far above 
what he can reasonably hope to get. If sometimes he gets it, it 
comes as no surprise to him. It matters little that he does get it; 
physical goods are not important. What counts are people, sym 
pathy, understanding which means mostly being understood, even 
though he tries hard, but unsuccessfully, to understand in turn 
and the romantic angles of life, of industry, economics, and even 
the sciences. It is more important to be liked than to be good in 
the field, better to be noble, gentle, a humanitarian than an expert 
or an efficient manager. The world is abundant enough to furnish 
even the most unexpected. Hence debts mean nothing, just as 
riches don't. You can reach for the pie in the sky, if only you 
have no trepidation about it. Once you've got it, you can eat it and 
have it too, he believes. And somehow he gets enough, though 
sporadic, evidence that he is right. Hie world is not a pragmatic 
one. Some of its purposes are always beyond comprehension. 
Everything may be important, even the most insignificant and 
boringly familiar detail. 

He is a soft one with women, a gentleman, a cavalier, even 
where he plays the tough one or the cynic. Yet it seems he has little 
determination to win the most feminine of their favors. He tends 
to win them anyway, but then he does not quite know what to do 
with them. He is shy, awkward, almost innocent, and women are 
often willing to bestow much more on him than he has asked for. 
They like a man who is not so dead set on making them at all 
costs, even if they have to teach him what to do with a woman who 
has consented. Even when he shows the coat of a wolf, he is actually 
oblivious of women and their concerns. He does not seem to un 
derstand them. All he wants is to be understood himself. 


His best match is a girl who has been the oldest sister of 
brothers. She must be able to assume the role of a senior and to 
handle younger, somewhat dependent and guidance-seeking boys. 
She need not be very feminine in appearance, although he would 
like her to be beautiful. Sometimes she really is, although it might 
be a cool or plain kind of beauty, and other times she really is not, 
even though he claims it. If she has coped with several boys at 
home, she can usually cope with this one. However, he may turn 
reticent, balking, or even antagonistic, as soon as she starts compet 
ing with boys in the slightest way, or if a male friend of his makes 
merely a remark to this effect. Only if she is very maternal and 
lets him pursue all of his many and often short-lived interests, only 
if she never insists on taking him to task at home but merely 
smuggles subtle suggestions into his mind, only if she can guide 
his professional conduct without his notice and without ever de 
manding credit for it, or, in other words, only if she is the secret 
boss, will they be capable of happiness. Looking up to her, he will 
also be inclined to look up to her family and her brothers, some 
times to the point of appearing to lack backbone. He will try 
to ingratiate himself, and as long as he does so socially, as an en 
tertainer, as a very nice guy, or by his reputation in his field of 
work, he has good chances of succeeding. There is one thing 
they can never count on: reliable help, particularly in business or 
financial matters. Not that he might not give it abundantly at times. 
But at other times he refuses to get the point, or finds a principle 
somewhere in his mind that prevents him from moving a finger. He 
will not even drop a word with a person whose intervention could 
make all the difference. He is equally inconsistent in accepting 
help. He might ask for it when there is no need to speak of, and 
refuse to accept it even when it could be easily and willingly pro 
vided. His wife will often have to mediate in both directions, or do 
some lobbying behind his back. 

Another possible match would be a middle sister, as long as 
sfep has had at least one younger brother. A youngest sister of 
brotibeirs would not be so good. She has been used to the other 
bpt j^he oa^mot very well act the senior whom he has been 

ing for* Aa only child might also qualif y as long as she comes 


from well-matched parents (which is not too likely). For ex 
ample, if her mother has been the oldest sister of brother (s) and 
her father the youngest brother of sister (s), the daughter's chances 
with a youngest brother of brother (s) are not too bad. An oldest 
sister of sister (s) would provide the guidance of juniors that he 
needs, although neither spouse will be fully at ease with the other's 
sex. Worst of all would be a -marriage to a youngest sister of 
sister (s), unless other and especially favorable circumstances would 
compensate for their difficulties. She would neither provide the 
guidance nor even know too well how to handle the other sex. 
(And neither would he). A third party willing to supply them with 
the guidance they need would be welcome, although that may some- 
times also break up the marriage. 

The arrival of children would be hard for him to take. He 
would feel threatened in his own status. There ought to be only 
one darling little genius for his wife: he himself. But if she has 
been an oldest or middle sister of at least one junior boy, she will 
be able to manage. For the optimal match the youngest brother 
of brother (s) married to the oldest sister of brother (s) the best 
configuration of children would be a girl or two first, then a boy; 
or girls first, then boys, then girls again, then boys. But it would 
be wise if there were not too many in all. The poorest match 
marriage to the youngest sister of sister (s) would also be the 
least prepared for any children of their own. Usually one child is 
already too much for the parents. Both of them are looking for a 
senior to guide them, and they may even try to make their child 
into one at an age when he or she could not possibly oblige. 

As the children grow up, the youngest brother of brother (s) 
will slowly get used to them, but he will do little planning for the 
future. His wife, if the right one, will do some of it for him and 
be his monitor for the remainder, urging that he ought to set 
some money aside, take out life insurance or raise the one in 
operation, look after the children's education, find a better school, 
speak to the teacher, or, one day, at last, set up a will. But he will 
often be busy with the pursuit of his trade, art, writing, science, 
philosophy, or hobby, and find no time, no money available, no 
reason, nor even room in his mind. On the other hand he may be 


his children's best companion and entertainer, inconsistent and 
careless, always ready with a story, sometimes poking fun at their 
oh-so-serious mother or their teachers. He will be on par with the 
children rather than their superior by experience and responsibility. 
He will have least trouble identifying with his youngest boy, but 
even here his capacity to understand, to form an integrated picture 
of the boy's interests and concerns, will generally be limited. When 
his children have grown up, he is likely to make them his confidants 
rather than vice versa. 

As for male friends, he gets along best with older brothers of 
brothers. He may occasionally enjoy the friendship or company 
of another youngest brother. There will be empathy between them. 
Together they may long for the same distant lands and stars, but 
they will be able to stand each other for any length of time only 
if the other is the youngest brother of sister (s), or of both 
brother (s) and sister(s). The most enduring relationship will be 
with a senior of boys, or with an only child whose father was a 
senior of boys. The older brother of a sister may also be a possi 
bility, although he may not be particularly anxious to be a steady 
friend of a boy; he would prefer to spend his time with girls, unless 
he has been strongly discouraged at home. Middle brothers may 
also make good friends, 'provided they have had younger brothers 
themselves. Sometimes the youngest brother of brother (s) may 
even be less wary of a middle brother than of an oldest brother, 
especially if his own brothers have been very close to him in age. 

So important are male friends to the youngest brother of 
brother (s), that he will sometimes be willing to sacrifice a girl in 
order to keep a boy, if that boy is the right one. He will tend to 
be quite interested in having his male friend meet his girl, anxious 
to hear his opinion about her, ready to drop her, if his friend 
advises so, even ready to pass her on, or merely lend her for a 
night, to his friend, should that wonderful man so desire. He will 
plead for his male friends, and make his girl or wife like them and 
their friendship. If she does not, he will try again and again, for 
years if necessary, or wish her to hell one day. In that case he 
Would try to get himself another girl who has less trouble being 
motherly to him and all his male idols. 


The number of brothers he has had bears on his marriage. The 
larger that number, the harder will it be for him to give them up 
and to give up his male friends of later life; the harder will it be 
to become and be a man for his girl. If during his childhood his 
brothers had not formed subgroups, and if they had been inspired 
by their parents and their own experiences to wish more and more 
for a sister as the boys continued to grow in number, he may well 
have gotten the brunt of this wish. He may have been made into 
a girl of sorts. Consequently he might not marry at all, or marry a 
strong female who controls him as an older brother would and 
orders him around for the rest of his life. He may put her on a ped 
estal and attempt to be her humble servant, trying forever to fathom, 
the depths of her mind, her womanhood, and even her capacity to 
have children. 

Politically, the youngest brother of brother (s) is against monar 
chy, against dictatorships, even against strong leadership within 
a democracy. Lcdssez*faire is his motto. Everything will take care 
of itself. Even extreme opposites can be brought together. How? By 
love and by understanding; by letting people take their own 
courses; by ignoring all boundaries, laws, and regulations; by adopt 
ing a new language, that of the heart. In spirit he will be a revolu 
tionary, way into his old age, perhaps a true Christian, but there 
is no revolution that could fully satisfy him. Yet, if the president 
of the bank where he works, the governor of his state (even a king 
or the council of a radical political party) tells him that they love 
him and his ways, that he is just fine as he is, that nobody could 
do the job better than he can, this will be the end of all needs for 
change. With their permission he may even become a ruthless and 
destructive executive. He loves to be a member of a power group 
and thereby get to do and obtain the things that he would ordinarily 
dare to vie for only by inefficient magic, hypnosis (which sometimes 
tends to be a fad with him anyway), or endless tours of mere 

He will not only look for help of any kind. He will count on it. 
He will trust that there is always a way out, and that he himself will 
not have to find it. It will come to him by the grace of God, history, 
or circumstances. If it does come, that is. But since an essential 


part of politics in Western democracies is appealing to people, he 
may be lucky even here. 

In religion, he can tolerate hierarchies and mediation as long 
as priests, saints, and the "One and Almighty" like him best of 
all. That would be his tacit contention. He believes in God's in 
cessant interference with the world that He has created, in mystic 
unions, flashes of revelations, miracles, and the brotherhood of all 
men, especially if he is their dearest brother. He is a pantheist, and 
the last thing he would like to be called is a moralist. Emotions con 
stitute the world. That holds even when he is an atheist. It is not 
matter that counts, nor its laws, but what you feel of matter, of 
nature and its infinite beauty, or of other people. As a matter of 
fact, there are no laws without exceptions. Hence exceptions are 
the laws. Both blend forever into each other. To him no stretch of 
imagination is too long to furnish the proof. 

As for philosophy, he is the mystic, the romantic, the ex- 
perientialist and existentialist. Philosophy is a mood rather than 
a system. It is reception rather than construction, growth rather 
than movement, a way of existence rather than a mode of action. 
Philosophizing is among the essences of life. Even failing may be 
fun, if he can take his time with it, if expansive reflection is possible. 
And what is success when measured by the vastness of the universe 
or the delicacy of a dandelion ball? If active in -formal philosophy, 
the youngest brother of brother (s) would rather be a historian of 
philosophy than a logician or system-builder. He would be an 
opponent of methodology, clear concepts, and strict definitions. 
He prefers to look for the etymological roots of concepts rather 
than their specific meanings as derived from their contexts. The 
grandiosity of a scheme impresses him more than its simplicity, 
genesis, or purpose. 

Death is not worth much thinking about. Somehow and secretly 
he believes that he might not have to die at all But if it should 
be inevitable, there will be a wonderful life thereafter, a state of 
high exaltation in the presence of God. The youngest brother of 
brother(s) is the person who may forget to draw a will, or who 
tows a rather imperfect one. In his last weeks, days, or hours he 
feet even more that he cannot be bothered by such worldly trifles. 


The rings from heaven have already reached his ears. By giving in 
to them, by gazing toward his end with a glow, he may be 
doing more for his survivors than by disposing of possessions and 

Losses of immediate family members or dear persons will throw 
him into turmoil and confusion, although the loss of a parent 
may be lessened in its impact, if he has several older brothers. In 
that case, the loss of a brother would also tend to be less severe. 
After suffering losses, periods of deep mourning and forced eupho 
ria may alternate. He will appear overly afflicted at some times 
or in certain instances, and peculiarly unconcerned at others. 
Guilt over unconscious wishes for the loss will tend to be "denied" 
as well as get the best of him, either all at once or in succession. 
He will fumble repeatedly in various matters and get himself into 
ever new troubles, at least for a while. 

Like the oldest brother of brother (s) he will tend to experience 
the loss of his mother or a motherly friend as the most painful loss. 
The loss of an older brother, or a friend assuming that role, may 
confuse him thoroughly. He has always been with senior (male) 
peers. They were there before he came to life. So it is difficult for 
him to spell out any wishes in his mind to get rid of them, to 
dream up what life would be like without them, Hence the loss will 
take him by surprise and find him in a considerable turmoil at first. 
Girls, however, can be foregone without much trouble. Even the 
loss of a very dear one or of his spouse has little impact unless she 
was a kind of mother to him to begin with. Often he will not even 
observe the conventions. He may date a girl and sometimes even 
marry again soon after he has lost his wife. 

He flocks to prophets,, advisors, and psychotherapy, and usually 
loves what he can get As far as he is concerned, it need never end. 
If called upon to give advice, guidance or a listening ear, he tends 
to believe that, for the client, things will take care of themselves. 
In that case he might even claim that psychological help or coun 
selling should be counsellor-centered. He usually does better with 
male than with female solicitors of his help, and best with youngest 


The Oldest Brother of Sister(s) 

He is a friend of the girls and ladies, whether sincerely or with 
tongue in cheek. Love of the tender sex is the most important of 
all concerns, no matter how important his other engagements. If 
necessary, he will undergo stress and hardship, but at the end of 
the road there must be a woman, or two or ten, all at once or in 
succession. No trophy is good enough by itself. Obtaining it must 
help him win the lady of his choice. On the other hand no sacrifice 
is too high, if it gets him, or merely protects, his beloved. He can 
get along with men but he prefers to communicate via women, 
theirs or his own. Sometimes they change partners in the process. 
Not that he could not negotiate or work with men directly, but what 
would be the point, if he can get a woman's help. That was how 
even God had originally arranged it in Paradise. 

He may be a good worker as long as there are female colleagues 
or co-workers, or secretaries, assistants, maids. Work without Muses 
is barren. Only if his mind is quite definitely on a girl outside of 
work, if he is happily betrothed or married, will he tolerate the 
exclusive company of men or purely factual contacts with the 
women around him. Yet his tolerance will last for little more than 
a day at a time. He would rather not go on long trips or expedi 
tions, nor join the army, nor get into any other field of work where 
women are scarce, should not be brought along, or would not go 
anyway. He prefers a leading position to a subordinate one, not so 
much because he has felt a calling for it but because he thinks 
he is more likely to be able to set his own pace, take off for his 


women whenever he likes to, or use his rank to get them in the 
first place. 

Even so he tends to be a responsible worker. He is not exactly 
absorbed by his job or profession; he may change it, even in later 
life, if the new work does not differ too much from the old. Yet he 
is still interested in doing a good job, if for no other reason than 
not to lose outside privileges that have already been his. He is a 
realist. He does not v aspire the close-to-impossible. He wants his 
peace and his fun. That's what life is for. And he does not want 
to take more than a reasonable risk. Only with a woman to win will 
he play for higher stakes, be more careless, and even courageous. 

He can accept authorities as long as they do not interfere in 
his private affairs. He likes authority to be technical in character 
and does not believe in authority per se. Only if the person in the 
superior position is a woman, will he concede that she may be 
broad in her outlook and have a say in things other than her field 
of competence. However, the woman must always keep in mind that 
she is a woman and that, in this very capacity, she has to be the 
subordinate, the submissive, patient, and wise friend. If she does, 
he will not hide his affection and admiration. If she is an older 
person, she need not even be too articulate in these concessions to 


men, as long as there is some man superior even to her if possible, 
a male to whom she bows in awe. 

As for men, he will accept them as his superiors at work, if they 
work harder than he does, if their sacrifices are greater than his 
own, if they are better than he is in the field, and if they are neither 
favorites with women nor favor them too much themselves. An 
older brother of brother (s) tends to be relatively easy to accept for 
him. That man will treat him as if he were a younger brother, and 
he may perhaps behave a little like he has seen his sister behave 
toward older males, including his father and himself. Or he may 
take that authority for a "father," particularly when that man is 
considerably older than himself. He is inclined to be a "good son" 
to him. He will even permit the girls in their environment to adore 
that man more than him, as long as he himself is clearly second- 
most favored. 

If in a position of authority himself, he is for live and let live. 
Work is one thing, and fun, recreation, women, and love is another. 
His subordinates should partake of both. Let them also have their 
women. He wants no goofers among his workers, but they should 
not wreck their brains or bodies either while trying to accomplish 
his goals. And there should be celebrations from time to time. Let 
them bring their women, let the women bring their men, let people 
see whether his own wife is not the most attractive girl and he him 
self the most gorgeous man of all. Nobody will have to admit that 
this is so. He merely wants some evidence that he got the best of 
all wives, and that he is the best man his wife could get. 

He is a fair-to-good preserver of property, estates, business, 
and the like, but he will not expand it greatly nor be anxious to 
create much himself. Yet, he may create new enterprises, but it 
will be accidental, more a by-product of his efforts to win and 
keep the favors of the girl or woman who has attracted him the 
most, and to care for the children that she has "given him" so 
graciously. He is much less hurt than the oldest brother of brother (s) 
would be, if any of his enterprises fail. As long as his family and 
he? himself survive, things cannot be so bad. He will start all over 
^rftfa something eke, and if he should fail again, he will start from 
scratch for a third time. To him it does not really matter what field 


one is in, as long as one can make a go of it and a living. After 
all, what is there that matters more than love, 

He is kind and considerate with women. He can court for a 
long time without getting discouraged, go out of his way in order 
to demonstrate his interest, and is seldom, if ever, ashamed of what 
he does for a woman. But he can also sense his chances with women 
better than other men, especially the oldest and youngest brothers 
of brothers. He will not operate in a vacuum. She must be inter 
ested in him, too. Once that is established, he can let her take her 
time. She should look him over. That's her right. That is what he 
would want his own sisters to do to their boy friends before they 
decide or ask him, their oldest brother, for his consent. If the girl 
of his choice decides otherwise, in fairness, he bears no grudge. 
They can part as good friends. 

The best match he can make would be the youngest sister of 
brother (s). This match could be perfect. After all, he has been 
used to girls his junior, and she to boys her senior. They would 
tend to have no conflicts over sex or rank. He is likely to make 
his choice more full-heartedly than the oldest or youngest brother 
of brother (s) could, and she will not have to transform into a bit 
of a boy or into some kind of mother. External tokens, such as com 
plexion, hair, facial and body build, or the way she dresses, will 
be secondary to what she is like as a person. He can accept many 
modes of attractiveness in girls, whereas brothers of brothers only 
are more particular, stubborn, and narrow in their preferences. 

His sisters are likely to agree with his choice and accept the 
chosen girl. They can identify with her as she will be able to do 
with them, and the need for competition will be small, especially 
when they have made their own choice of spouses with the approval 
of their brother. Only an unmarried younger sister unmarried for 
whatever reason, realistic or imaginary who believes that this is 
her final fate, will interfere jealously and possibly create trouble. 
The more younger sisters the oldest brother has, the more likely is 
it that ooe of them will be the jealous one. That should not be con 
fused with little jealousies that are inevitable whenever the adored 
brother takes up dating or is getting more serious with a girl for 
the first time. These jealousies pass before long. 


The prospective wife's older brothers can hand their little 
darling over with confidence to a man who has been in their posi 
tion in his own family, who can empathize with what they feel, 
and whose feelings and thoughts they will tend to understand. They 
won't have to be close buddies with their brother-in-law. But they 
also know that he will not be more of a buddy with a gang of 
boys than with his own wife. He will be their girl's boy, although 
also her master, and she had better accept it. 

There are a few other matches that have fair chances of hap 
piness and success. He could, for instance, marry the oldest sister 
of brother (s), but he will have some conflicts over seniority rights. 
For quite a while their problem will be who the boss is. Only the 
arrival of children, by definition the little ones, will mitigate this. 
He could marry the youngest sister of sisters only, and she would 
be happy to submit to his authority, but she is inclined to act and 
behave a little too prudish and belligerent. She has not been used 
to a peer of the opposite sex from earliest life on, as has the 
youngest sister of brother (s). A girl in a middle position may also 
be all right as a spouse, as long as she has at least one older brother. 
An only child would qualify, too, especially if she comes from well- 
matched parents, such as a mother who had been the youngest sister 
of brother (s), and a father who had been the oldest brother of 
sister (s). But well-matched parents are not indispensable, apart 
from being rarer than chance, with only children. She will be the 
"child," the little one, anyway. The oldest brother of sister (s) may 
not be quite ready to act as a parent, but he can hardly help acting 
as a senior. Relatively the poorest match would be the marriage to 
the oldest sister of sister (s) only, although the fact that he him 
self has been used to girls will reduce their conflicts over acceptance 
of the other sex. He can accept it. He is not quite that poor a match 
for her. Occasionally the wife may bring one of her younger sisters 
with her, perhaps as a frequent visitor, or even to live with them, 
and that could conceivably improve their situation, although one 
day he may wonder why he had not picked the younger one for a 

Tbe arrival of children as well as any particular constellation 
of them are not crucial. The oldest brother of sister (s) would 


rather have some children than none, but he and his (well- 
matched) wife are already happy with things as they are. Their 
relationship will not go to pieces, if they should have no children. 
They might be considering adoption in that case. It does not really 
matter either whether they get a boy first or a girl, or boys only, 
or girls only, or many children, or few. They can take in stride 
whatever they get . 

He will care well for his children. Yet he does not go out of 
his way to do so. His wife still and always comes first. He tends 
to be as good a father as they come, neither overbearing nor 
indifferent, neither too strict nor too soft, and quite a guide, im 
plicitly rather than explicitly, for his children's relationships with 
the other sex. If he is married to the youngest sister of brother (s), 
the children are the most likely of all to be at ease with each 
other, with friends of the other sex, and with prospective spouses. 

Male friends matter less to him than they do to brothers of 
brothers only. Almost all major types, oldest brothers of brother (s), 
youngest brothers of brother (s), youngest brothers of sisters (s), 
and only children, would be compatible, even though not eagerly 
sought. Only other oldest brothers of sisters would not last long as 
friends. Oldest brothers of sisters are much more likely to get 
along well with each other's sisters than among themselves. Like 
other same-sex friends, they cannot do much with a person who 
is their duplicate, except identify and empathize with him. They 
have too little to offer to each other in their own rights and by 
their immediate presence. 

The oldest brother of sister (s) is usually not "one of the boys." 
He is no gang-man. There is nothing in the company of mee that 
could not be had as well or better from women. This is his opinion. 
Where this is not the case, he may wel have inherited conflicts 
over rank and sex, or over losses, from his parents, or he may 
have suffered losses himself. He may then go out with the boys for 
games, sports, beers, pranks, and the like, but to the gang he will 
appear chicken. He has to be home on time, his wife and his children 
expect him to. He cannot afford anything too wicked or dangerous 
because of his family. He lets the boys know that his wife comes 
first. He might even admit this openly. When it comes jto fights 


among the boys, he is for medi&tion and reason, even if it earns 
him the reputation of a coward. He does not care as long as the 
women know of his strength as a lover. He counts on them to 
get him back on his feet after defeats. Yet before such a (troubled) 
oldest brother of sister (s) has founded a family of his own (or 
when he does not care to found one at all), he may take to being a 
somewhat careless dare-devil. He will never play for the highest 
stakes, though. 

The greater the number of sisters he has "presided" over in his 
family, the harder will it be for him to settle for one girl only in 
marriage, and also to get along with male friends, except in slightly 
peculiar ways. He might relate to men as if he himself were a bit of 
a woman. He may prefer those men who would let him do that, 
men who, quite likely, are somewhat feminine or unmasculine 
themselves, at least in some aspects of their characters. Religious 
orders, the ballet, the opera, the stage, and the movie industry 
may offer particularly attractive vocations. If he can be a leading 
performer, director, or conductor, he will have many girls and 
women around him, as well as men with artistic flairs (which by 
some public opinion at least indicates less masculinity), and he 
may be the master of both. He will tend to work in the interest 
of a master a composer or author if possible an older one or 
one who is dead already, but at any rate an authority beyond 
doubt. From his creative idols he excludes the newcomers, the 
revolutionaries, the chaotic ones who have not yet emerged with 
a style of their own. All of this holds also in the lower echelons of 
entertainment and even in various branches of business. The oldest 
brother of (too many) sisters will tend to go for public relations, 
advertising for the various kinds of "cheer leading" perhaps 
also for industrial design. 

In politics the oldest brother of sister (s) tends to prefer a 
moderately conservative government, party, or style of administra 
tion, as well as non-interference with business, family life, private 
and internal affairs, and a person's ways of thinking. Everybody 
shodfcd be permitted to make up his mind by himself. The forces 
of If e ad society that are already functioning as they should, he 
believes, need to be guided and controlled with only a minimum 


of effort. The more everybody does and pursues what he wishes 
to anyway, the greater the likelihood that he is working for the 
common good. Everything is all right as long as a satisfactory 
love-life and family-life and education for the children are guar 
anteed. All other aspects of life and politics are secondary, can 
be decided on in purely technical ways, and do not have to be his 
concern, unless they involve the field of his own business, profes 
sion, or job. 

In religion he believes in life and love. He is somewhat indif 
ferent to, or skeptical of, God. He does not insist on any "ism," 
one way or another. He may be an atheist, but would seldom make 
a point of it. He may be a member of a conventional faith, with 
out great fervor but with the belief that some religion is probably 
good for the children. He is not without opinions, but he likes 
them to be objective, well-founded, and involving only the fun 
damental issues of life, certain principles of morality, conduct, 
and love perhaps, and an ultimate purpose in life which some 
may want to call God. 

In philosophy he tends to be an Epicurean or Stoic. In the 
first case he believes in the pursuit and consummation of pleasure 
and happiness, both simple and refined. All values of life are a 
natural outgrowth of these interests. In the second case he is a 
heroic and calm non-believer, a fervent friend of spiritual and in 
tellectual discipline over all emotions and accidents of fate. Nothing 
is stable, except that whatever happens and whatever he might feel 
cannot throw him off balance. Or he may become a wizard of the 
Socratic art of discourse which accomplishes, above all, elegant 
proofs of contradictions inherent in the discussants* opinions. In 
either case, he does not care much for finished systems. They defy 
life. Nor does he like mysticism and existentialism which, in his 
opinion, defies life by autistic preoccupation with oneself, the 

Death is serious and inevitable. As a matter of fact, it is built 
right into life itself. Life culminates in love, love in procreation, 
and procreation is necessary because there is death. Those who 
procreate die themselves, but they can live on through their 
children. Love, if it is really great and sincere, might live on too. 


The greatest of all stories and legends outliving their heroes are 
those of people who loved each other with the utmost of abandon 
and succeded against their specific kind of adversity. 

Losses of immediate family members or dear persons will be 
felt deeply and sincerely. Mourning comes quite naturally to the 
oldest brother of sister (s) and he is without feelings of guilt 
more often than other bereaved people. He has never wished to 
any great extent for the lost person's departure. Any loss in the 
immediate family, whether of mother, of father,, or of a sister, 
will hurt him in about the same way, although for him, too, 
mother tends to be the dearest of all and hence the hardest to 
lose. If he has many sisters, the loss of one of them will be less 
traumatic than if he has only one or two, unless it is his favorite 
sister who dies. Similarly, losses of motherly and fatherly friends, 
of girl-friends, or of his spouse will strike him severely. Only the 
loss of male friends will often leave no mark to speak of. Generally 
he will recuperate in due time from all such losses. He can mourn 
efficiently and learn to live securely without the person lost. 

As for his own survivors, he has usually left a fair will in time, 
i.e., not made decades in advance nor at his death bed. The will 
is usually simple and general, leaving much of the interpretation 
and execution to the good senses of the beneficiaries who, he 
believes, are in sufficient harmony with each other to avoid feuds 
and contests. And often he is right. He does not think that he 
will have to take care of life and people way beyond his death. 
Life takes care of itself, and people, at least those dear to him, 
play along with it gladly. 

He is not a frequent candidate for psychological advice or 
counselling. Neither male nor female psychotherapists are too much 
of an "attraction" to him. What can they offer that real women 
would not give much more graciously and generously? If called 
for help himself, he tends to hold a good middle line between the 
extremes of being over-solicitous and careless. He is usually better 
with females than with males, particularly when the females have 
had brothers. 


The Youngest Brother of Sister(s) 

He is a girls' boy. They love him. They dote on him. He 
evokes all kinds of maternal instincts in them. It does not matter 
what he undertakes or where he is heading, they will tend to be 
around, assist him in his endeavors or, more often, take care of 
his physical needs. They will keep house and cook for him. They 
will see to it that he has things to wear. They might even tie his 
necktie. They will clean up the mess he leaves behind when 
working. They will keep his files in order, do the typing, attend 
to the garden, make little repairs in the house themselves, and 
take care of his interests during any of his (erratic) absences. They 
almost wish nothing in return for it. Being able to do these things 
is enough in itself. 

In reality, he will not always get such service, but this is what 
he would prefer and for what he will unwittingly tend to set himself 
up. In one case this may involve the official services of many 
females, in another only some modest help furnished without mudi 
intention by a kind woman, even an old one, who takes pity on him. 
But even then he wiU take it for granted. Frequently he retaiiis 
strong ties to his older sisters, or at least to one of them, sometimes 
the unmarried one, because only a sister may be willing to do all 
that he would tend to take for granted. Sometimes it may also be 
some feminine and motherly male win) is to take care of him* 

He is not a very regular and systematic worker, but he can 
keep himself busy forever if his work corresponds to his talents and 
interests, or if it helps him satisfy somewhat childish goals, such 
as making a living from playing bridge, the xylophone, or horses, 


or establishing himself in a penthouse or way out on a cliff. Where 
his talents are great, he is capable of real accomplishments, pref 
erably as an individual or as the star of a team. He can lose him 
self in the pursuit of his work, provided there is little inter 
ference from others, especially males, and provided some motherly 
females look after some of the bare necessities of life. 

He is much less reactive and competitive than the youngest 
brother of brother(s) is in his work with other males, but he may 
be erratic too. He may change his plans repeatedly, appear in 
consistent and negligent of his obligations, but he is not really. 
Though oblivious of the realistic and concrete contexts of his work, 
and though believing that somebody will always pick up loose 
ends for him, he seems to follow an inner line. In some capricious 
and hidden ways he is consistent, at least wherever his technical 
competence is good. By intention he does not settle for mere ade 
quacy. But even with good and excellent abilities he will often 
be found to miscalculate the nature of his tasks or the degrees of 
his competence. He will stumble along carelessly and gaily, some 
times zooming to great achievements and perfect solutions, some 
times procrastinating forever some simple and inevitable problems. 
He will often not meet deadlines, nor like them in the first place, 
even if he himself has set them, and improvise ingeniously at 


the last moment. His work will sometimes be sloppy, though 
usually adequate, and at other times a masterpiece. He will sur 
prise his superiors forever by these fluctuations and his apparent, 
though not intrinsic, reluctance to take any orders at all. 

Should he be in a leading position himself, he will have 
similar troubles. If engaged in a field of work that has clear out 
lines and boundaries and requires specific talents, such as chemis 
try, corporation law, surgery, radio engineering, banking, or even 
managing sales of a given selection of goods and services, he can 
be excellent. Sometimes he seems to succeed in a large variety of 
fields, but closer inspection will usually reveal that he manages to 
get by on some specific angle that he knows best, or on some 
technical communality, say finances, of all those fields. He may 
spend funds assigned to him as if there were infinite, though 
perhaps irregular, resources. With tranceJike. determination he 
will draw on the services of motherly females and even males, not 
necessarily for the benefit of his business^ but always for his per 
sonal comfort. Yet his psychological understanding of people, such 
as those working under him, is often lacking. He did not have to 
try very hard for insight during his early life. He also tends to 
be a little weak on the psychological aspects of his business or 
job. However, he is quick with compliments, flatters well, espe 
cially women, often passes out generous, but not very thoughtful, 
gifts, and treats personal problems with a certain lofty elegance 
but often without much concern. What he does sense, though, is 
the talents and achievements of his employees, provided he him 
self has enough to show of either. He can select quite well and 
put to work those who are likely to do a technically good job for 
him. But he has no way of telling whether the personal problems 
involved are huge or negligible. Some authority above him may 
well be able to utilize his services quite efficiently, particularly 
when that authority is an older brother of brother (s) or, perhaps, 
an only child of well-matched parents (which is somewhat rare). 
He, the youngest brother of sister (s), may even J*e taken advantage 
of in such a situation. On the wfeole, he would not make a very 
good president of an enterprise, but a fair-to-good vice-president, 
and an excellent expert in his specific field of experience. 


He does not ordinarily build up or preserve property too well. 
He may even squander it. Not infrequently, new assets are coming 
to him overnight and almost from nowhere. He often finds a 
female who does the building and preserving for him. It may be 
his wife who checks his proclivities to waste, ramble, fuss, and 
get nowhere. With proper management by a responsible female 
his talents and abilities may well be steered toward highly 
productive and profitable goals. A fortune may accumulate almost 
without his notice. It may also be lost without arousing his con 
cern. He will tend to have generous and sweeping plans for his 
children, but often their implementation will be up in the air. To 
him there is nothing more important than to follow one's own 
interests and inclinations. Whether they entail riches, security, and 
prestige, or their opposites, is of no importance. 

He can be nice to women, . adore and flatter them, he can 
surprise them by his tact and care, but he does not always do so. 
He behaves much of the time as if he could afford to forget what 
women want and as if taey would take to him anyway. After all, 
he has always had them. He has had sisters as far back as he 
can remember, whereas for the oldest brother of sister (s) there 
had been a time when he was alone and a time thereafter when, 
in all likelihood, his sisters were no more than rivals whose sex 
he had not yet recognized. Since the youngest brother of sisters 
has always taken women for granted, his efforts to win their favors 
and all his courtship are somewhat playful, peripheral, or even 
mildly sarcastic. He likes to show that he can be an endearing 
person, and in a way he is. There is a certain careless grace about 
him- But the woman he wins will have to be very kind, soft, and 
maternal to him, will have to overlook a lot, and count on little 
support from him except in real emergencies. She must be willing 
to suffer. Not too infrequently she has suffered some loss early 
in her life. She cannot have a career of her own, even though she 
may be an expert in the very same field of work he is in. He 
wants her in die house as his faithful wife and devoted mother 
of their children, and as a sounding board and first sponsor for 
ai, he undertakes in his profession. He may refer to her as his 
wonderful spouse who has made it possible for him to succeed 


in his work. He may claim that he could not have done what 
he did if it had not been for her. But it does not sound completely 
convincing, particularly not to his wife. He is not at all aware 
of how much an active part indeed she had in his success. 

As for marriage, he would do best with the oldest sister of 
brother (s). This could be a truly perfect match. She has been used 
to boys her junior, and he to girls his senior. They should have 
neither rank conflict nor sex conflict, although he will be the 
more dependent one, no matter how independent and efficient he 
may look in the areas of his greatest talents, and she will be the 
somewhat dominant and protective one. She may be attractive 
and even beautiful, but his choice of such a person appears to have 
come about by accident rather than by keen eyes or specific wishes 
for women and beauty. What matters more to him is that she 
promises unconsciously and instinctively to be good with (gifted) 
"little" boys. 

Not infrequently he keeps up close contacts with his^ sisters, 
way beyond his wedding. If they are married, that's fine with him, 
as long as he remains the little darling whom they love even more 
than their husbands, on whom they can bestow the favors he is 
used to, and for whose benefit they may even engage their hus 
bands' means and resources. Unknowingly he might provoke argu 
ments among his sisters and their husbands. Often the latter^ grow 
jealous of him. Their wives seem to be fonder, more permissive, 
and more understanding with him than with their own children, 
let alone husbands. But whether his sisters are married or not, 
they will try to get some control also over his wife, to advise her 
on his foibles and see to it that she really takes good care of him. 
They may even have the newlyweds live in their house. If he has 
married the older sister of brother (s), and if the sisters are hap 
pily married themselves, they will learn soon that his wife does 
indeed take care of him and they may "let her have him." The wife's 
(younger) brothers, on the other hand, will probably behave 
somewhat like her husband. They tend not to let go of her, and 
she will retain a special fondness for at least one of them, and 
possibly evoke her husband's jealousy. Yet since he and her 
brothers have been in similar positions, they will be able to identify 


with, each other and resolve the conflict after a while. (If their 
sister were married to the oldest brother of brother (s) or of sis 
ter (s), they may fight a more serious battle with her husband.) 

The youngest brother of sister (s) could also marry the oldest 
sister of sister (s). She would be willing to act the senior, the 
dominant and responsible one, but she may not be fully reconciled 
to the fact that she is married to a man. She may be a little 
belligerent, especially over his insistence on assigning a female 
role to her kitchen, children, church, and playing the charming 
hostess at parties and he may feel cheated, misunderstood, treated 
unkindly, and may not infrequently look for refuge and consola 
tion with one of his own sisters. A middle sister would be eligible, 
as long as she has had a younger brother. The other peer relation 
ships she is used to may conflict with the one that is duplicated 
in her marriage, but some close friend (s) could easily substitute 
for those. An only child might be all right, too, if she comes from 
well-matched parents, say, from a father who has been the youngest 
brother of sister (s) and a mother who has been the oldest sister 
of brother (s). Yet why did they have no more than one child? 
Should her mother have been an only child, too, then her (the 
daughter's) chances of treating her husband motherly, patiently, 
and kindly, are small. She will not be satisfied with her "gifted 
little boy." She wants to be the child herself. 

Relatively the poorest match would be the marriage to the 
youngest sister of sister (s). Neither of them can afford the other 
the guidance, support, and responsibility they are longing for. He 
has at least been used to a peer of the opposite sex. If they find 
guidance outside their marriage, from one of their parents or 
friends, or if he finds the work and profession that suits him and 
his (possibly great) talents, their situation may be somewhat better. 
(He has an advantage over the youngest brother of brother (s) in 
that he has at least been the first, or oldest, boy in his family, no 
matter how many girls preceded him.) His specific talents and his 
work may make him the guide of their marriage, in a secondary 
sense. Occasionally, his wife may bring along an older sister of 
hers, either to visit frequently or even to live with them and furnish 
both of them with the guidance they need. 


The arrival of a child may come as a bit of a nuisance to him 
even in the case of an optimal match. He would feel the child to be 
a rival for all those favors coming from his wife which he had 
taken so much for granted. He may lose himself more than ever 
in his work and profession, or at least pretend to. He may come 
home rarely or go on extensive business trips. This will be more 
likely if the child is a boy. With a girl he might feel less threatened 
as he is still the only boy in the family and even come to 
realize how much his wife has been doing for him without his 
notice. He might do so with a boy, too, provided he and his wife 
are optimally matched for each other. The oldest sister of brother(s) 
can usually handle a child in addition to her husband and even 
employ his cooperation to a greater extent. 

The best configuration of children would be a girl first, then 
boys, then girls, then boys again, as many as she would care to 
try for. He would just as soon have the minimum number, say 
two, one, or even none, but he can take them when they come. 
He can even grow to like them a lot. However, with the poorest 
match, Le., marriage to the youngest sister of sister (s), neither of 
them would want children. If they should have one, a girl would 
generally be a trifle better than a boy. 

He does not make a terribly good father, but his wife, if the 
oldest sister of brother (s), would tend to be a responsible, though 
somewhat oversolicitous, mother. She is the one who raises the 
children, who takes care of all their problems including those 
arising later on in school. She becomes the person to whom the 
children turn for advice and help. He is more of a companion to 
them, but too busy with his own work to be of much use at first. 
Only when the children grow up and begin to get interested in 
his profession or in his hobbies, will they be able to reach 
him as a father. He may have a lot to offer. He may even be a 
good teacher, but mostly thanks to his competence hi his field 
of work and his absorption in it. In case of a poor match, how 
ever, neither parent may have any interest in their children. They 
may be wise and have none, but if they do, he will often take this 
as an excuse to grow even more apart from his wife and possibly 
leave his family in self-righteous protest. In such cases he is a 


good candidate for showing up with another woman somewhere 
in no time at all, forgetting forever to pay alimonies. 

Male friends matter, although to a lesser extent than they do 
for the oldest and youngest brothers of brothers only. Youngest 
brothers of brother (s) may be among his favorites. In a way he can 
be a little bit their senior. He has been the first, hence potentially 
the oldest, boy in his family. At the same time he can learn from 
youngest brother (s) of brothers about the issues prevailing among 
boys. The youngest brother of brother (s) may have been domi 
nated by his older brother (s), possibly pampered and even made 
the girl of the family. But he has also identified with his older 
brothers, at least with one of them, and there was something to 
learn indeed, it would seem. The youngest brother of sister (s), 
on the other hand, could learn from his senior sibling (s) only 
how to be a girl. Another favorable type of friendship would be 
that with an oldest brother of brother (s), but they might have 
more conflicts over seniority than one would assume off hand. 
Besides, the oldest brother of brother (s) would not like his friend 
to behave like a star and leave all the mess and trash of real life 
to him. The youngest brother of sister (s) may, however, collect 
himself vigorously and build up discipline in order to deserve the 
friend's favors. Friendship with an only child would be among 
the less likely to succeed, even though he is an only one himself, 
the only boy. The oldest brother of sister (s) is also among the 
less likely candidates for friendship. Both of them would probably 
prefer to pick each other's sisters in spite of the fact that they 
would not be optimal matches for the girls. Middle brothers would 
be more eligible again, at least as long as they have had older 
and/or younger brothers and/ or older sisters themselves. Friend 
ship with another youngest brother of sister (s) is possible too in 
spite of the trend of same-sex friendships in general to avoid 
partners of identical positions. (Singletons, to note an exception, 
often choose same-sex singletons for friends.) 

The youngest brother of sister (s) is not too popular with the 
boys. They resent the ways in which he takes help and support 
for granted. They claim that he always leaves them the mess to 
clean up. They consider him neither a very pleasant peer, colleague, 


or comrade nor a very likeable superior, even where his technical 
competence is unquestioned. Other males get most annoyed with 
him when he happens to be younger than they are, or no more 
than their age. Only where the youngest brother of sister(s) as 
sociates with men who are by far his juniors can he ordinarily 
avoid that kind of trouble and quarrels. 

It should be mentioned that he may also establish something 
like friendships or platonic relationships with older women, or 
women who have held senior positions among their siblings, or 
both. These may be his real and true friendships, the ones he 
cares for much more than he does for all those with males. 

The more older sisters the youngest brother (of sisters only) 
has had, the greater will be his difficulties with friendships and 
marriage. He may be so used to being unique by virtue of his sex, 
that potential male friends might have a very hard fime with 
him and his careless and seemingly arrogant ways of relating. 
And he has been used to so many girls catering to him, perhaps 
even trying to run his life, that he will have trouble resigning him 
self to one girl only, as he would have to in marriage. Sometimes 
he may prefer intimate relationships to males. With three, four, 
or more older sisters presiding over him, he will have adopted 
some feminine features himself and might attempt later on to 
relate to males like a female, but also to pick feminine males. 

In politics the youngest brother of sister (s) has either almost 
no opinions or strictly technical and often fairly efficient, though 
limited, viewpoints. As far as he is concerned, any of the historic 
or present-day systems may work, if only certain basic principles 
of economy and expediency are being observed in government, 
administration, banking, trade, etc. He might not even like to 
consider, or talk about, politics as a whole. He would prefer some 
specific aspects. He may be capable of excellent analyses, ideas, 
and achievements, but he will try to stay within the more or less 
accidental boundaries of his skills. He lacks the overall or global 
outlook and the instinct with which some people can very well 
appraise, and behave in, situations of which they have only a 
limited grasp or inadequate information. He may be an excellent 
advocate of a political party, but will be poorer in his under- 


standing of the political system of which his party is a part, or 
of the world in which this political system is a constituent member. 
He will also tend to take many aspects of his own experience and 
conditions of life for granted, to* refuse to explore others even 
where they might be essential, and to be at a loss where other 
people or broad and basic problems are to be traced and under 
stood. Somehow he always manages to keep things going, but he 
might not have much of an idea what for. 

In religion he is either indifferent or conventional. In the 
first case, all religions, ancient and present-day alike, are historical 
phenomena, no more, nice to look at but nothing to get seriously 
or piously involved with. Nevertheless it may be considered fun 
to study all of them, or even to compare them for certain aspects, 
morality, imagination, and the like. In the second case he tends 
to go along with the religion he has grown up with, to believe 
without much doubt what it has taught him, even to lead a life 
which, on the whole, the minister of his church would recommend 
to his community as a fair (though uneventful) compromise be 
tween the pursuits of the world and those of God. The minister 
may not know that this particular sheep of his flock may cherish 
something rather irrelevant to God and the church more than he 
does either. All this may be very different, should the special 
field of interest or hobby of the youngest brother of sister (s) be 
theology. In that case he may excel in religion in general or in his 
special field of interest, and rise to high honors within his profes 
sion, not so much as a minister or bishop than as an expert of, 
say, church history, canonical law, parish administration, preaching, 
international relations. 

Philosophy does not usually have a grip on him either. He is 
not set on history, nor on system building, nor on existentialism. 
Yet he may be an excellent historian, or a top logician, if he has 
set his heart on it. Even then he is somewhat impatient with any 
so-called philosophy of life. He does not believe in anything that 
means to pervade the individual and to make him over. Things 
are best as they have come to be all by themselves. 

Death will come one day, he realizes, but so what! It may 
strike you in the midst of your work and fun, or it may crawl 


up on you in the sick-bed. With the help of modern medicine 
and experienced doctors one can fight it to various and often 
considerable degrees, but ultimately nothing will help against it. 
Yet when it comes to dying, or when he finds himself in external 
danger to his life, he will be quite agitated, unstoical, or even 
behave like a hysteric. He will cling to any straw of hope and 
especially to any person whom he suspects to have a say in the 
matter, preferably to a kind nurse or "big sister." At that point, 
as ever, he has no illusions about death. He knows how thoroughly 
it will terminate all of him. 

Losses of immediate family members will affect him to the 
degree that he feels their consequences. However, the news of the 
loss itself tends to leave him strangely unaffected. He may not 
even put on much of a show of mourning. Often he surprises his 
relatives and friends by his expectations that the remaining family 
members step in and give him the help and support he has lost. 
It does not seem to dawn on him that the other bereaved could 
have felt, and suffered from, the loss themselves. His mother and 
his favorite sister are usually the hardest to lose. Their loss may 
send him into some mild, but restless and agitated, form of depres 
sion. For them his mourning may even be sincere and persistent. 

If in need he is a ready candidate for psychotherapy, provided 
he can get a motherly woman for a therapist. In that case he can 
usually make good use of it. He is not too eager to become a 
counsellor or psychotherapist himself. That work may appear 
psychologically too involved for his liking. If he has become one, 
he tends to be at his best with oldest sisters, fair with girls, not so 
good with males, poorest with oldest brothers of brothers, all 
relatively speaking. 


The Oldest Sister of Sister(s) 

She can stand on her own feet, take care of others, and even 
boss them to an extent. Where she cannot, she would still like 
to very strongly. There is a certainty and finality in what she has 
to say that may not always be justified by actual circumstances, 
whether they concern people, housework, education, art, or politics. 
She pretends to be surer of herself than she really is, but usually 
succeeds conveying that impression. Even where she is far from 
being an expert, she will still have comments, at least to the effect 
that there is little to comment about. If something is of no interest 
to her, she will often present it as something that is of no general 
interest. She can cut people short who know much more than 
she does on the subject in question. But she can, and usually will, 
direct group conversations with a certain (loud or quiet) ven 
geance. If she cannot dominate, she may be unhappy, angry, or 
aggressively mute. 

At work she is likely to be responsible, competent, and to get 
things done. This is particularly true where she is in some posi 
tion of leadership. This position need not always be recognized 
officially. She will tend to identify with her superior, who must 
be male in order for her to accept his authority. He will have to 
be distinctly older than she, or in a position distinguished on other 
grounds that cannot be questioned. He may be an aristocrat. He 
may come from a foreign country. He may have had a training 
and experience or won recognition of a kind that she, or any 
girl, for that matter, could not possibly match; such a male may 
even be younger than she is and still retain the right to control 


others as well as herself. She herself may see to it that everybody 
obeys and adores him. 

Females will have to bow to her in order to win her sympathy 
or mere tolerance. She will insist on being the final authority with 
them, work vigorously to establish her claim, always with side- 
glances and remarks about the relative inferiority of the others. 
This includes older women and her official female superiors, if she 
has any. Secretly she despises them and will not rest until she 
has surpassed them in rank or in achievements, and until the 
males around her, above all those in leading positions, have given 
her full credit for her efforts and accomplishments. Only other 
oldest sisters, usually of sister (s) only, will elicit her respect as 
long as they remain at a distance and are no contestants. 

Taken in all, she is a kind of queen, both conscientious and 
self-righteous, who will accept orders only from her king father 
and very few others, but give orders to all kinds of princes and 
princelings, expect unconditional submission from all ladies and 
princesses, and do as good a job as her king father will want her 
to. Depending on his intentions and qualifications, this may be 
very good, mediocre, or even wicked and despotic. 

Property, wealth, and possessions are secondary when com 
pared to her people, above all, to her siblings, children, or those 


who submit to her reign. Their existence, growth, and welfare are 
her real wealth, she believes. If she has no people to take care 
of and direct, she is unhappy, and may feel useless and depressed. 
She loves anything they do, as long as she can make out that it 
is not detrimental to her position nor to the (ultimately male and 
paternal) authority from whom she derives it. The fact that she 
behaves somewhat like a male herself makes it difficult for girls 
under her control to identify with her, and hard for the boys to 
love her. They rather fear her and sometimes cooperate or obey 
only in order to avoid her wrath and malice. 

As for material realities, she likes to be well supplied and to 
spend freely. She will not incur debts on her own behalf, but may 
do so for the sake of those entrusted to her, or in order to stimulate, 
possibly even to punish, an inadequate provider, father, husband, 
or boss. At work, she likes to draw big salaries, not as an indis 
pensable condition but as a token of appreciation, and she tends 
to spend it freely and often carelessly, although generally in the 
service of her work and obligations. If she has nothing left at the 
end of her career or at the end of her active family life, after her 
children have married and/ or moved to their own homes, it is 
just as well. But she would hold on to some form of control over 
the people of her career, business, or family. She may follow her 
people, even to distant places, and try to continue to run their 
lives or careers, at least in some of its aspects. She may wish 
to be consulted on matters of business strategy, or on some specific 
issue that has been close to her heart before. Where she is deprived 
of such opportunities, she will bear grudges and sometimes turn 
quite hostile in general. 

For men she is a hard girl to make. She tends to rebuff ad 
vances for quite a while. Often she appears so strong and inde 
pendent that she discourages them anyway. She may be beautiful, 
but men simply do not think of her as a woman who would want 
to be conquered or seduced. She does not encourage flirtation and 
courtship either, much to her own regret when she has set her 
heart on a man who does not notice this. In that case she will 
try to boss him around, to test his- interest, to disappoint him 
on purpose, even to talk disparagingly of him with a certain 


amount of conviction. As long as he has not declared himself, 
preferably in some humble and utterly devoted way, she is not 
sure whether she should like or hate him. 

What kind of man will take all that from the woman who 
wants to be loved by him? Only men who are somewhat passive 
or feminine themselves, or who have been bossed a lot before, or 
possibly those who have been traumatized by early losses will 
take it. They, in turn, may relax her sufficiently to bring her more 
tender and even motherly sides to the fore. She is not all that 
cool and belligerent as she appears at first. But even after she 
has found what she has been looking for, her pride is among 
her greatest concerns. She has chosen him because he struck her 
fancy, for no other reason, she claims, and if it was an unwise 
choice, if he is poor, of low origin, inefficient, or even seemingly 
unworthy of her love, what does it matter? She takes the liberty 
of loving him anyway. 

The best match she could ordinarily make would be the 
youngest brother of sister (s). He would tolerate her dominance. 
He would even seek her out for it. And he would have little 
trouble accepting her as a woman. He may not understand why 
sometimes she turns obstinate even in the most physical sense. 
She won't budge in arguments. She will handle household problems, 
merchants, and parties in her own (stubborn) way and choke his 
mere attempts to get in a remark. She won't even let him lead 
her at dances. But he will not mind as long as she takes care of 
him and the family and lets him pursue his interests. Sometimes 
she may challenge him even on that. As she will frequently lack 
his technical competence and talents, she can interfere only pe 
ripherally, although in their personal relations to each other she 
may top him by common sense, female logic, or occasionally by 
plain meanness. 

The youngest brother of brother(s) may also do. Implicitly 
he will accept her guidance, no matter how numerous and violent 
their struggles and arguments may be. Neither of them would be 
too ready to accept the other sex, but he does not mind her being, 
or trying to be, somewhat of a man. He may like her as a com 
rade, and she has been looking for someone submissive, someone 


to mold, anyway. A middle brother would also be a fairly good 
match as long as he has had one or more older sisters among 
his siblings. An only child may often do, preferably when his 
parents have been the oldest sister of brother (s) and the youngest 
brother of sister (s), or something close to it. An only child has 
not been used to peers, but this may sometimes give her the ad 
vantage she is looking for. The oldest brother of sister (s) would 
be compatible only insofar as he has been used to the other sex. 
But generally he would be looking for a junior female, while the 
oldest sister of sister(s) would be looking for a junior who is not 
too obviously, or too much of, a male. Among the worst matches 
that she (or any senior girl, for that matter) can make would be the 
oldest brother of brother (s). They would have both rank and sex 
conflicts and a hard time coming to any kind of terms with each 

Children would be an important relief even in cases of (rela 
tively) optimal matches. She can then let go of her husband and 
devote her energy to them. She tends to be a proud, powerful, 
and protective mother, who will retain a certain belligerence against 
males. Her husband will have to realize that his role in creating 
their children was utterly minor, and the boys among the children 
will learn that there is no difference between boys and girls except 
that boys wear pants. Most girls can lick boys, and certainly she 
herself can do that with anybody in the family. She would prefer 
to have girls rather than boys, or girls first, by all means, before 
she would put up with a boy, too. It would be better even for the 
boy himself, if he came after one or more girls. If he were the 
first, his mother would make a hard try at subduing him, at cutting 
him down in size, at making him feel sorry that he had not been 
born a girl. If she were married to the oldest brother of brother (s), 
children may be a most welcome relief, although both parents 
would tend to wage their war against each other by recruiting the 
children of their own sex and by agitating and conspiring against 
those of the opposite sex. 

Her best female friends would be younger sisters of sisters. 
Ordinarily they would have little trouble subordinating themselves 
to the big sister. They might supplement each other beautifully, 


even if the friend happens to be the husband's sister or cousin. 
Such a friend may do some good for the marriage too. The youngest 
sister of brother (s) would not care too much for what the oldest 
sister of sister (s) has to oiler. She would be more interested in, 
and freer with, boys anyway, and the oldest sister of sister (s) 
could not easily let her have such an advantage. She would rather 
forego her friendship. Oldest sisters of sisters would make friends 
all right as long as their fields of work and interest do not overlap 
too closely. She can empathize and understand their problems 
(with others), but she cannot be too intimate with them, at least 
in the long run. Middle sisters may make good friends, provided 
they have had older sisters. Generally, she will tend to act as a 
kind of fatherly friend to her girl friends, and be aware, if tacitly 
or unconsciously, that no friendship with a female can match the 
one with a male. She will use her girl friends as welcome sup 
plements to her marriage or friendships with males. She will even 
pretend that she lives for girls, but for that pretense she needs 

The larger the family she comes from, i.e., the greater the 
number of her sisters, the greater will her difficulties with mar 
riage tend to be. She may not get married at all, or make a very 
inept match that could not possibly work out even under more 
favorable circumstances. Nevertheless she will stick to it with fatal 
persistence, as if to prove to herself and the world that she should 
never have married, even though she did. If she stays unmarried, 
she sometimes steers toward nursing or the monastery and is likely 
to land in a leading position, that of a director of nursing, a chief 
of the city's social work, or a mother superior. She can preside 
over many females. In point of fact, there she may be at her best. 
But the competition of males must be kept from her. Otherwise 
she may become quite unreasonable, no matter how competent 
and efficient she had been until then. Again, this does not preclude 
that she may not do all that for some superior and distant male 
whose authority she accepts blindly. Occasionally and under op 
portune circumstances, she may become promiscuous from a posi 
tion of power. She may take and discard men, in rare cases use 
them even to generate children. But she will remain the sole 


authority in her own domain and the sole parent for whatever 
offspring she may have set her mind on. She may even hire help, 
including criminals, to get rid of a man she is done with if she 
cannot otherwise achieve the separation. 

Politically she tends to be a conservative, even an outright anti- 
revolutionary. She believes in legitimate authority, no other, and 
legitimate is what has been around ever since she can remember. 
Above all, she believes in her father. Only if he should have been 
a rebel, may she adopt an unconventional creed, but even then she 
will be conservative in her own ways. She cannot permit, nor see 
any need for, change of what her father has left her as a legacy. 
She will see to it that his will or the will of somebody like him, 
of some man vastly superior to everybody around her in age, status, 
or competence is being fulfilled. She will believe in the letter of 
his message rather than in the spirit. The oldest sister of sister (s) 
as well as her conservativism will be feared rather than loved by 
the people over whom she reigns, but she will not mind. This is 
what she wants. All leadership and government must be lawful, 
and the law must be obeyed under all circumstances. If she does 
not get what she wants, or if she has been severely disappointed 
by her father or some other ultimate authority, she may turn into 
an avenging suffragette, an advocate of women's participation in 
politics, a supporter of female candidates, or just a belittler of men 
and their achievements in general. 

Something similar holds for religion. She is a theist believing 
in the absolute reign of God but also in her own infallibility, as 
long as she lives by God's commandments. God takes an active 
part in everything that is and happens, but He also puts to work 
every man and woman alike. He helps nobody who cannot and 
does not help himself. Justice and morality are His important areas 
of concern and of His interference. If He strikes by means of fate, 
He does so justly. The person struck had better look into his 
past for faults. If He strikes her, the oldest sister of sister (s), the 
story may be different. She might accept it and love Him even 
more dearly. Or she might protest violently, especially when she 
compares her own afflictions with those of others, supposedly 
much more deserving of punishment than herself. In rare cases, 


she is an atheist, but then she follows the founder of her brand 
of atheism or its contemporary high-priest with the same fervor 
as she would have followed God. 

Her interest in philosophy, provided she has it, is likely to be 
an interest in a great philosopher or wise man, in the principles 
that guided him, and in their consequences for her. She wants to 
make him her idol and object of identification, although she will 
do so only in a restricted sense. It may never dawn on her to 
study his biography; she may ignore his relations to women, even 
if they have been a crucial issue in his philosophy. She wants a 
gospel, and whoever is strong and persuasive enough to have 
produced one can be her potential hero. His gospel must be 
articulate and clear-cut, and it must have an effect on people's 
actions. Romantics, existentialists, or mystics have practically no 
chances with her, unless they, too, are able to introduce a simple 
and handy system. 

Death will have to strike her by surprise. She cannot be had 
by it otherwise. She won't lie down for long illness, nor will she 
pay much attention to her health earlier in her life. The mere thought 
that something could happen to her, or that she would have to 
submit to irrational and impersonal forces stronger than herself, 
is repugnant to her. Death is to be ignored, and where it cannot 
be she will often put up a primitive and violent fight against it. 
She may refuse to fall asleep for days in order to keep up vigilance 
over her failing life. She may even lay hand on herself to evade 
the grip of death. 

Losses of immediate family members can be borne by her 
without too much suffering as long as she has not yet felt fully 
responsible for the lost person. Only father must never leave for 
good. When he does, she will be close to despair and take a long 
time to recover. Her father's death or loss is the only "punishment" 
that would really make an impression on her. The loss of her 
mother, except when occurring in her earliest years of life, would 
usually be less upsetting, and not too much guilt would be attached 
to it. She may even admit consciously her own wishes in that 
direction. The father, however, has frequently been perceived as 
so powerful and strong that his departure, through death or 


otherwise, can only have come of his own accord. But then, why 
would he do such a thing, unless she has not at all lived up to his 
expectations, or has done something very much against his wishes. 
As a matter of fact, having left her is not enough punishment. 
He should have killed her. If it was death that took him from her, 
oh, how much would she have loved to die in his stead. Yet, once 
she has recovered from such a loss, she will be the most adamant 
executor of her father's will. 

She is not usually too upset over the loss of any of her sisters 
either. She can handle whatever guilt she may feel quite well; 
better anyway than a youngest sister can handle the much more 
diffuse guilt over the loss of an older sister (see also pages 33, 43, 
114). Only when the lost sister has been her favorite, or when 
she herself, the oldest sister of sister (s), has already begun to 
consider her sisters her legacy, may she suffer more severely. She 
has failed in the eyes of her father or some superior authority, if 
she has let any of them die or get lost. Her task had been to hold 
the family together, to take care of everyone who needed care, and 
the little ones have been the most precarious, almost by definition. 
Such had her father wanted her to do, and she has failed him 
miserably. The same would hold for her own children, for all 
people who have submitted to her rule, and even for her husband. 
Their losses will appear to her as personal failures, sometimes 
even the result of her own doings. She believes she can never 
forgive herself. 

Should she seek counsel or psychological advice, her problem 
is often her conduct with men, whom she seems to scare away, 
and her blind devotion to her father and to strong father figures, 
but she cannot benefit too easily from such counsel. Her invincible 
pride is in her way. As a counsellor herself she may sometimes 
appear to be too domineering and bossy, particularly with men, 
and possibly not too deep or sensitive in her understanding of 


The Youngest Sister of Sister(s) 

She likes an adventurous and colorful life. She wants enter 
tainment and change, and if it does not come quite as she desires, 
she may seek it actively, though haphazardly and often on the 
spur of the moment. With her nothing ever seems fixed and set 
tled. She is ready to throw her beliefs, achievements, and friends 
overboard and go for new sets of them altogether. She is likely 
to retain a certain youthfulness way into her old age. As a 
matter of fact, she has often looked more dynamic and sparkling 
than her sister (s) already at birth or soon thereafter. Men can 
challenge her forever to compete with them on almost any issue 
that they happen or care to introduce. She is even more compet 
itive with girls, but men will be the most important issue. She has 
an advantage over other girls. She can seduce men better, partly 
by her greater inclination to submit. She is likely to appear more 
feminine than oldest sisters of sisters (who may be too bossy) 
and oldest sisters of brothers (who may be too motherly). Although 
at first she is more successful with men than other girls, she is too 
capricious, willful, competitive, or distractable and unstable to 
hold her conquests after a while, or even to stay interested herself. 
So she may lose. 

At work she can be anything excellent or erratic in her 
accomplishments, a good sport or a sissy, a reliable colleague or a 
vicious tattletale. She may be any one of these for good or change, 
from one to the other depending on external and internal circum 
stances, both of which are almost never under her complete con 
trol. In her attempts to correct them, she will often overshoot the 


target. In almost no case would she be a good leader and boss 

of others. Only with a male boss who knows how to take her as a 

worker and as a woman, who is fatherly enough to overlook her 

little flaws and faults and old enough not to qualify as a potential 

lover, may she be in a position to utilize all she is able to do, and 

this can be a lot. Perhaps older females, used to positions of seniors 

from childhood on and willing to guide inconspicuously, if possible 

without claiming any credit, may be capable of doing likewise, 

that is, keeping her well and productive at work. What threatens 

to get her down is her dilettantism. She may be able to do many 

things reasonably well and incapable of deciding which to embark 

on. Her preference will be to embark on all, but on none of them 

for good. She would be at her best at jobs that require high, but 

somewhat automatic, skills and no decisions to speak of. She 

makes a good typist or interpreter, she may be an expert on 

fabrics, in special services, in routine functions of banking or 

selling, in fashion or advertising. Yet with all her craving for 

adventure and distraction, she is frequently unoriginal in her 

contributions at work. She may aspire to be creative, but her 

aspirations are usually too rushed to do her much good. She 

may be most creative where she has the least intention to be. 

She might seek, for once, to be deeply and truly understood, 


but she would not know for sure when she has been understood 
and when not. She may be a sucker for anybody pretending em 
pathy, only to end up even less understood and more willful than 
she had been. 

Taken in all, she is a charming, quick, capricious, and yet 
gullible brat. Her family and friends must always be ready for 
surprises and ready to pay for them if they entail costs. 

Possessions and property may mean a lot to her, but she can 
not be expected to create or preserve it. She may marry into it. 
She may find a rich husband with no trouble at -all. Yet she may 
waste it all with him, if he lets her, or do so by herself, should he 
die or divorce her with a portion of his wealth as a compensation. 
Or she may leave him to marry someone richer than he, or 
richer than an (older) sister's or girl friend's husband. In other 
cases, however, the youngest sister of sister (s) may not care for 
riches. She may marry a poor and/or incompetent person out of 
spite, perhaps because one of her sisters, or all of them, hit it so 
well financially. Very seldom will she contribute directly to the 
build-up of any kind of estate, even when she is in a field where 
this can easily be done and she has the talents. She is too fond of 
gambling and too ambitious to be able to hold on for long to 
whatever she may succeed in accumulating. 

She tends to be quite attractive to men and fairly inventive in 
getting places where they come in crowds. She can sparkle in 
conversation, impress by her dresses and make-up, although both 
may be a little loud. She can intrigue two, three, and even many 
more, men at a time, keeping them in expectation for days and 
weeks a femme fatale, almost especially when she is truly con 
cerned with someone else whom she wants to make jealous. She 
can even be graceful about this, but gradually the men notice that 
they are not getting very far with her. They begin to suspect that 
they are chasing a phantom. When she submits to their wishes, 
probably because she notices the dangers to her interests, her 
giving in turns out to be just a bit phony. There is a speck of pre 
tense and connivance in the way she lets herself be carried away. 
When the men notice, and she notices that they do, she may rush to 
new people or make a desperate move toward her true love. That 


may get them together, at last, and if they should decide on the spur 
of the moment to get married, if they have children soon, and if 
he should be a compatible match to begin with, she may be over 
the hump. But if he or she wavers, she may fall into her pattern 
of teasing and evasion even with him, discover in her own mind 
that perhaps he was not the right one either, and begin to flirt 
with others again. Unconsciously she would love to be coerced 
by him to give up all that nonsense, but on the surface she is, or 
has pretended to be, sufficiently impulsive and arrogant to dis 
courage force. Her true love may believe that if he would try to 
take her by force, or any other device of his, she would slap him 
in the face and leave. 

Her best match would be the oldest brother of sister(s). In 
deed, that person is the most likely one to see through her ma 
neuvers and her inner difficulties. He would know what a junior 
girl wants, although he may be a little puzzled by her urge to 
compete with him on all sorts of issues. If he recognizes that she 
does not really have to win, that she merely wants to have a hand 
in the matter and get acknowledgment for that, or if he lets her 
win at times and in certain respects, they may arrive at a very 
good understanding. After all, she is rather willing to submit to 
a senior anyway. But she is not used to a male. Getting used to 
him, however, may well dispel whatever reservations she had 
retained about being guided and even ordered around. He is a 
man. That makes the difference. What may have been wrong 
coming from her own sisters or oversolicitous girls in general, is 
all right coming from him. 

The oldest brother of brother (s) would not be quite as good 
in marriage, although they would supplement each other for rank. 
She would have little difficulty accepting his leadership, and he 
is able to provide it. But they may not come very close to each 
other as man and woman. They may plan and agree on financial 
aspects of their marriage, on the house they want to live in, and 
on business matters, but he is less likely than the oldest brother 
of sister(s) to awaken the woman in her. They may still get along 
all right, but in times of contemplation they may find they are 
missing something that they cannot quite name. The arrival of 


children, particularly when they are of both sexes, will often make 
a difference. He will be able to empathize and side with the boys, 
and she with the girls, and possibly both of them will recognize 
their spouse's share in the creation of their favorite children. Even 
before that, the event of birth, the birth of their child, may help 
to bring them closer together as man and woman. 

A middle brother or an only child may also be compatible, but 
the middle brother should have had at least one younger sister 
among his siblings, preferably one right next to him in age, and 
the only child ought to come from parents who have been the 
oldest brother of sister(s) and the youngest sister of brother(s), 
respectively, or close equivalents. The poorest match she could 
make would be the youngest brother of brother (s). Not only 
would both lack experience with a peer of the opposite sex, they 
would also be in a rank conflict. Either one would try to be the 
little one and look for leadership in the other, and neither one 
of them would be able to furnish it. What is worse, not even 
children would make a difference. They would not be welcome, 
even if, consciously, both of them believed the opposite. They are 
likely to try to make a senior out of their child and one child is 
usually plenty once they see what it means to keep it but they 
are bound to fail for quite a while, possibly forever. Even after 
their child has come of age and could conceivably be a senior to 
them, i. e., their guide, their confidant, he will only be able to 
pretend. He has not learned it from them. Hence he has not 
learned it at all, unless they have put him up with another family 
that had been more optimally matched. 

Even if she marries most favorably, the youngest sister of 
sister (s) may have some trouble with her children. She will often 
talk her husband into hiring someone, a nurse, a maid, a governess, 
and the like, to take care of the children. Or she may hand them 
over to him more often than he would like her to; at any rate, 
more often than other wives would do. Only if he is prepared from 
the very beginning to take a share of the burden off her shoulders 
will they get by without arguments and quarrels. Sometimes, if he 
assumes principal responsibility for the children, she may be able 
and even eager to take care of them all by herself. At other times 


(and more often than with other wives) her own mother may be 
called upon and do pretty well with the children, if this does not 
conflict with other obligations. The wife wants to remain the child, 
together with her own children. Even if she can get her mother to do 
as little as some of the cooking, things may already become toler 
able for her. The sequence of the children does not matter much, 
as long as at least one of them is a boy. She really wants a boy, 
not so much per se as for the prestige and implications. She wants 
to emulate others who have had boys, or must outdo them. Never 
theless, she would do best with a boy first, then a girl, or boys 
first, then girls. But more boys than girls, please, would be her 
sentiment. One might think that a series of girls only would also 
do, as that is what she had been used to at home. Yet she would 
often fall short of an understanding of her daughters except, 
maybe, the youngest. If her children fail to arrive in the order and 
kind she has planned, she may get quite angry and jealous of other 
mothers. She may blame her husband for it, even divorce him, 
but at the same time try to deprive him of the children whom she 
does not really want herself. So, once she has got them, she may 
discard them for another husband. In rare cases she may come 
to love her children at last, especially when she does not remarry, 
and does not have to compete with a male peer. Needless to say, 
all these features will be more pronounced, the poorer the match 
she has made. 

Her best female friends would be older sisters of sisters. If 
there are no men at stake, or if men are not much in contact with 
them, they may get along beautifully with each other. Her friend 
will guide her and take over many of her responsibilities. She 
herself likes to be guided and to serve her friend with devotion. 
One or both of them may be married, but they will still get along 
with one another as well or better than they do with their husbands. 
In fact, their husbands had better leave them with such supple 
ments. Having their friend, the wives may be more fully happy 
than with their husbands alone and, this being the case, the hus 
bands will benefit indirectly. Other likely girl friends would be 
the oldest and the youngest sister of brothers. Generally, however, 
the first one will be less eager for the friendship of a girl than of a 


boy, at least as long as he is a junior sibling, and so will be the 
second one, if the boy is a senior. After a while both types of girl 
friends may lose interest in her, the youngest sister of sister (s), 
yet she would continue to seek them out. She is feeling comfortable 
with the senior girl and senses unconsciously that her friend knows 
how to handle boys. So she, the youngest sister of sister (s), may 
learn that from her. She is usually not aware, though, that such 
an older sister will prefer her to boys only if her relationship to 
her brothers has not been too lucky. Normally, that oldest sister 
would be interested in her to the extent that she can furnish her 
with boys whom the youngest sister of sister (s) has a gift to 
attract. If the oldest sister of brother (s) would let her be around 
even after she has got her boy, the youngest sister of sister (s) 
may still learn little from this, because the boy is likely to be a 
junior himself. He would be the wrong kind of boy for her. In 
that respect, the other type of girl friend, the youngest sister of 
brother (s), would have a little more to offer. She could show her 
how to treat senior boys, because those would be the ones she 
would prefer. Even in their direct contact, the youngest sister of 
brother (s) and the youngest sister of sister (s) are better off. 
Although the former is a junior sibling, as a girl she is the first 
one, i.e., potentially the oldest. Hence she may be able to give a 
little bit of the guidance that the youngest sister of sister (s) is 
longing for. 

Middle sisters who have had younger sisters among their 
siblings may also qualify as friends. So may an only child, prefer 
ably if her mother has been the oldest sister of sister (s). Without 
knowing why, the youngest sister of sister(s) may like the fact 
that her friend has not been used to any peers. In that respect she 
herself has something to teach to her friend, whereas the friend, 
in turn, may have less need to control others than an oldest sister 
of sister(s) would. The singleton could let her live beside her more 
freely and show her how to be a little more independent and how 
to enlist even the support and sympathy of much older persons, of 
fatherly and motherly friends, rather than peers. 

The greater the number of sisters who preceded her, the greater 
will her predilection for girl friends tend to be, and the smaller that 


for boys and marriage. That does not mean that she may not try 
hard, perhaps even desperately, to meet boys and to marry them. 
This is not a good condition in which to find the right ones. She 
may marry just to get away from girls, and then she may have to 
divorce her husband for lack of too many things, above all love 
and understanding, and return to girls. She is often sought out by 
strong women, chairmen of women's clubs and sometimes by man 
ifestly homosexual females or by feminine and artistic men, to be 
their darling, pet, or little child on whom they may squander 
tenderness and affection. They will permit her to- be willful, moody, 
and irresponsible. In point of fact, they will be delighted about it, 
since it proves how much she needs them. She may even arouse 
jealousies among those females, and one or the other of them may 
set out to wrest her from the fangs of men to whom she might 
fall prey, in spite of all protection and warnings. 

Politically the youngest sister of sister(s) may be anything. 
She can switch from one to the other extreme or declare to have 
no opinion at all. She will support strong and weak leaders, left 
and right parties, democracy, dictatorship, monarchy, the workers, 
businessmen, whenever it suits her or, just as often, whenever 
she can oppose someone else, say, dominant women or arrogant, 
erratic, dependent, men. When left alone and unchallenged, her 
tacit preference would be for change, mild or even radical forms 
of revolution, the rule of feelings, sympathy, group and com 
munity spirits, and understanding. Even if she favors a political 
system, party, or faction, her motive will rarely be clear-cut 
egotistical. She does not want to benefit personally, say, finan 
cially, or in terms of her husband's promotion. She may not be 
able to benefit, even if she wanted to. She will support a cause, 
because she likes the man, or has been insulted by one of his 
opponents, has always had a preference for the poor or for red 
heads, or because she thinks that justice can never be achieved 
except in heaven. She may start a campaign one day and refuse 
to accept the very idea of such campaigns the next day. She may 
strongly argue for women being in the forefront of politics, in 
stead of just operating from behind the scenes, as the wives of 
politicians, diplomats, businessmen, industrialists may be content 


to do. Yet she may also shrink from such a position and even deny 
women any such rights. She is not sure about how much women 
really can, or should, do. 

Her attitudes to religion are not too different. They may range 
from utter indifference to fervent concern, from theism to deism 
and atheism. She may believe in direct contact with God, or she 
may prefer mediation of all degrees. Yet in all forms of belief she 
will rather feel than reason about the implications: "God could be 
remote, hiding way beyond the most distant stars. But God might 
also flicker in a match that is being lit, or make two people fall 
in love. God is innermost and omnipresent, and His presence has 
manifold disguises. If there is no God, His absence is innermost 
too. There is indeed no God, and God is forever nowhere." All of 
this may pass in a process of erratic debate about God and for or 
against him, with moods changing even on the part of God. 

In philosophy, should she ever spell one out, she tends to 
go out on a limb. She believes in the basic goodness of man. 
Therefore everything should be permitted to man and more often 
to herself. Or she argues that man is governed by greed. There 
fore she herself wants nothing or only very little, and it does not 
matter much whether she gets it or not. It matters even less, 
though, whether other people get what they want. Occasionally she 
may be interested in something like the history of philosophy or 
in logic, and do pretty well with it. In her daily life, however, she 
may stay singularly unaffected by her philosophy. She might lack 
that sense of history or that minimum of logic without which a 
person cannot really manage his or her daily life. 

Death is capricious, she would feel. It is dormant for years, 
yet gnawing away on all of life with invisible persistence. Suddenly 
it strikes, either to take another long rest again, or to finish all 
of them off relatives, friends, and perhaps even herself. Death 
can be argued with, though. She may find herself talking to 
"him," bawling him out, or summoning him by superstitious de 
vices. Death may even be a lover, his embrace and kiss a sensuous 
experience, and his permanence a sweet lull. 

Losses of immediate family members or dear persons will 
nevertheless upset her greatly and rather conspicuously. She may 


be in hysterics. She cannot quite make up her mind as to what to 
think of the loss. Is it punishment? If it is, can she rage against it, 
or must she bear it? Is it a blessing? A gift from God so that 
she, the youngest sister of sister (s), will grow stronger? An omen 
of worse things to come? A sacrifice? No more than an accident? 

The father would generally be the hardest to lose. The mother 
could be replaced somewhat more easily, unless the loss occurs 
in her early years of childhood. One of her sisters may take over, 
especially in cases where that sister had begun to assume the 
mother's part before the loss occurred. This is more likely, the 
more sisters there are. With their father, however, they would lose 
the only man in the family, unless another man gets himself re 
cruited fast. But how can he substitute for him who loved her, the 
little one, so dearly? The mother or the favorite one among her 
older sisters, the one who has been another mother to her, would 
come next in impact, should they leave for good or die. But one 
of the remaining sisters will usually hurry to replace the loss, be 
a mother to the other children, and (in the case of loss of the 
mother) even a kind 'of wife to the father. If he takes another wife, 
there will be protests from all of them. Even the youngest sister 
of sister (s) won't like it. 

Concerning psychological guidance or psychotherapy, the 
youngest 'sister of sister (s) is almost a sucker for it. According to 
her, it could go on forever, especially if her father, her husband, 
or a friend of hers is paying the bill. If she should become an 
advisor or counsellor herself, she would tend to be a little sloppy, 
careless, and convinced that things will take care of themselves 
anyway. She would be better with female than with male clients, 
and probably best, although still not always too successful, with 
another youngest sister of sister (s). 


The Oldest Sister of Brother(s) 

She can take care of men, at least she could, if one would let 
her. But usually she does find the opportunities. She is independent 
and strong in an inconspicuous way. Often one only notices in 
retrospect how well taken, foresightful, and competent her actions 
have been. She does not insist on the credit, at least as long as the 
men whom she did things for get it. She is practical, concrete, of a 
healthy egotism, and sometimes self-effacing, although chiefly for 
her men. It's important to her that there is some prospect of retain 
ing the men she has, of finding new ones, or of winning old ones 
back. Everything else is unimportant. And men tend to like her. 
They flock to her. They come to her parties and gatherings. They 
know that she will always have an ear for them, and that she is a 
good, no, an excellent sport. There is almost nothing in which 
she would not join, if the men request it, hint at it, or merely 
need it. Yet she would not participate as a man. She would not 
wish to compete in what is men's business. Rather, she would assist 
them like some sort of mother or big, wise sister. 

In regular working positions, she does not exactly excel in 
speed and diligence, but slie is fine to have around. She creates 
an atmosphere that is conducive to good work. She will mediate 
between quarreling parties. She will even see to it that areas of 
friction are being worked on and removed. She is the one who 
undertakes it of her own accord to speak to the boss about it. 
He will listen to her, because she does not challenge his technical 
or administrative competence. He would say that she acts and 
speaks as is becoming to a woman. She gives him the benefit of 


her womanly advice on what he would tend to consider side issues. 
He may find himself following her sentiments which she did not 
consciously express, and he may decide matters in her spirit, even 
when she has no technical qualifications to have an opinion on 
the issue in question. If he should be against women, particularly 
when they encroach on men's domains, he can still be appeased by 
her. She knows how to take the wind out of the sails of a belligerent 
male, especially when he rages against women' in general and her 
own boy proteges. Officially in a leading position, she is, in gen 
eral, tactful and unoffensive to those working under her, shows a 
strict, yet kind, efficiency, and is able to relegate work gracefully 
and expediently. If her subordinates fail, she may step in herself, 
but she is seldom tempted to do it all by herself or insist that she 
is the only one who can do the job. Such an attitude would be 
more frequent with the oldest sister of sister (s). In one respect, 
though, the oldest sister of brother (s) might arouse reluctance and 
antagonism: she tends to be patronizing. She relegates work 
because she considers it unimportant, not worth her time. She is 
often unconvinced of the objective significance of her employees' 
contributions at work. She lets them make them, of course, but 
more often because they want to, because they would be unhappy 
otherwise, rather than because there are deadlines, obligations, 
factual challenges. What really matters is to keep them happy 


and herself quietly on top of this lucky condition. If there is urgent 
work to do, if there is an important commission, if completing the 
work would be a magnificent achievement, she may very well 
question the urgency, importance, and magnificence of the issue, 
"Does it really deserve a change of the pace of my boys," she 
will ask. 

With girls the story at her place of work is different. Their 
happiness is not as important, to say the least. They can be put 
to work whether they like it or not. And they will have to accede 
to her motherly leadership of boys whether she herself is officially 
in a leading position or not. They are the fillers in her professional 
life, and they had better accept that. They are of direct interest 
only insofar as they themselves have a hold on boys or men of 
interest. Under such circumstances, even friendships between her 
and the girls may develop. 

Material possessions are insignificant compared to the posses 
sion of boys or men. If one or more take to her strongly, rely on 
her, or cannot even live without her, she has got almost all she 
wants. She may prefer her boy or man to be a money-maker, or 
rich to begin with. She may remind him of things that ought to be 
done. Not in detail. After appraising what he has and what he can 
do, she will simply let him know, explicitly or implicitly, what gen 
eral landmarks she has in mind for their life together. Depending 
on her man's qualifications she can be content with much or little 
with wealth or nothing but a certain earning capacity on his 
part. She may possess more money than he does, and his assets 
could be of another kind, e. g,, he could be a great artist or scholar. 
She would respect his profession and abstain from all direct in 
terference. But she would undertake to run the household, the 
finances, even the business part of his work. If their assets lie in 
the same field, she will almost never compete with him or try to 
outdo him. If both of them should be trained in the same profes 
sion, say medicine, she will gladly renounce her career for him 
and direct their homeland community life. Her esteem extends also 
to her children. Next to men they are the most precious possessions. 
They may even be more important than men, and for their ultimate 
benefit she may decide that there will have to be material wealth. 


She will have to leave something to the children to draw on in real 
emergencies. On the whole they will develop their own assets. In 
fact, they will get all the possible education they want and can 
take. They will even be pressed through its first stages if they 
should balk, and she will shy away from no expenses. 

The man who gets her for good will usually find himself in 
very good hands. She wields no great power of fascination. She 
is no star and no difficult puzzle. She does not baffle her suitors 
by crazy demands and huge bills. If she is beautiful, she is 
usually not stunning. Other girls, even those less beautiful than she, 
may be more attractive to men. She looks so reasonable, respon 
sible, and often friendly, so uncomplicated but capable of han 
dling complications and acts with such common sense, that men 
sometimes do not notice that they are in love with her. The whole 
situation reminds them so much of home and mother, that it 
does not occur to them to ask her to marry them. Consequently she 
usually does have a fairly good choice, but she herself may have 
to do the proposing. She will have to see through the motions and 
maneuvers of her "suitors" who may sometimes bring other girls, 
real dolls, into her house and expect her to take care of both 
themselves and their dates. 

Her best match would be the youngest brother of sister (s). 
He would be the ideal person to accept what she has to offer. 
She would love to furnish hipi with all the things he needs in order 
to remain a bit of a little boy, a genius of sorts. Both of them 
have been used to peers of the opposite sex. They will have little 
trouble accepting each other as man and woman, and they supple 
ment each other in rank. She will lead, and he will love to be led 
in all but his favorite endeavors; even there he may need some 
help, at least on their practical and everyday aspects. 

Another possible match would be the youngest brother of 
brother (s). He is likely to have conflicts about accepting her as 
a woman. He may waver between submitting to her and rebelling 
against her sex. How can he give in to a woman? Yet, how could 
he give in to a man? As a matter of fact, men may be the ones 
to outdo and defeat. He knows that much from his experience at 
home. With his wife, however, there is no need to, because she is 


only a woman. Even so, the oldest sister of brothers may be able 
to help him overcome these conflicts, if for no other reason than 
that she does not have them herself. She can buffer his outbursts 
and usually comfort him unswervingly so that he may ultimately 
mitigate his stand. A middle brother may also do, preferably if he 
has had an older sister among his siblings. So may an only child, 
especially when she has been the oldest sister of a long row of 
brothers. To her youngest brother, she may have appeared almost 
like a mother, and that is what her husband who had been an only 
child would love her to be. 

Among the poorest matches, relatively speaking, would be the 
oldest brother of brother (s), although he himself would be even 
worse off with an oldest sister of sister (s). He would have a conflict 
over her sex as well as over her seniority. All her tolerance and 
understanding may sometimes not suffice to reconcile him on 
either. She would not be induced to retaliate, to be sure, but would 
hardly get very far with him. Unconsciously he would like a moth 
erly person, but it should not be as obvious as it is with her. The 
oldest brother of sister (s) would also be among the poorer matches, 
but he would at least have been used to a peer of the other sex. 
Both matches, however, that with an oldest brother of brother (s) 
and that with an oldest brother of sister (s), are likely to be helped 
by the arrival of children, the first match particularly when the 
children are boys. Children would be the juniors that both kinds 
of men and she herself have been longing for and that they did not 
get in their marital choices. 

The oldest sister of brother (s) would like children regardless 
of the match she has made. She is willing to take care not only of 
her husband but also of any number of children she decides to 
have. She is usually the one who makes up her mind about chil 
dren, and her husband may be expected to agree readily with her. 
The order of children that would suit her best is a girl first, then 
boys, but almost any sequence is fine with her. If she gets only 
girls, she would be the one who has had her boy, her husband, 
all along and she need not be afraid of losing him to them, at 
least not in optimal matches. If she gets only boys, she will simply 
extend to them what she has already been giving to her husband. 


Her children will tend to come to her rather than to their father 
with all their troubles. She knows all the remedies there are, and 
if there are none on a particular issue, she can console them 
beautifully. Her husband will usually leave it all to her and enlist 
her help himself. Unless he is righting her over seniority rights 
(as he may be, should he be an oldest brother), he will be either 
largely unaffected by his children and out of the house a lot when 
they pester him too much, or he will appear like one of the 
children himself. 

Female friends are less important to her than they would be to 
the oldest and youngest sister of sister (s) only. Her friendships 
would be on condition. Her friends would have to serve a purpose. 
This need not be to their disadvantage, but they would not be 
loved for their own sakes either. If they have a man on their side, 
it may be because of that man that the oldest sister of brother (s) 
takes to them. She believes that she would know better than her 
girl friend, what this man, or any man, wants. The two of them 
may share him, or she may even take him away, which would often 
be the end of their friendship. The oldest sister of brother (s) 
would not need her girl friend except after the girl has picked 
herself a new boy. If she is the youngest sister of sister(s), she 
may have good chances of doing that soon. She can interest and 
win men easily, but she is a little weak in keeping them. Well, she, 
the oldest sister of br other (s), is going to help her on that score. 
The youngest sister of brother (s) can also serve this purpose, 
but she is less likely to lose her boys, once they have taken to 
her. Besides she would probably pick boys of senior positions, 
oldest brothers of sisters or of brothers, and those would not 
care too much for the oldest sister of brother (s). Or they might, 
but it would not last very long. 

If the oldest sister of brother(s) chooses a girl friend for what 
she is rather than for what she brings along, she may still prefer 
the youngest sister of sister (s). That girl will look up to her, the 
oldest sister of brother (s), as an idol. It will come naturally to her 
to submit to this big sister, especially since that person has learned 
how to take care of, and hold on to, boys. She can learn from her 
how to do likewise, she believes. But there is another side, too. 


The oldest sister of sister (s), used to relating to junior boys, may 
treat her girl friend somewhat like a boy, and if the youngest sister 
of sister (s) happens to be the one who was brought up to be the 
boy in a family of girls only, she may like just that. The oldest 
sister of brother (s) will not ordinarily play that role, though. Only 
if difficulties at home had prevented her from taking care of 
younger boys (because of troubles among the parents, or because 
of losses of, and separations from, the father or her favorite 
brother, and the like) may she be tempted t6 take the friendship 
with the girl for the final thing. 

A middle sister may also qualify as a candidate for friendship, 
preferably if she has had an older sister and perhaps also a younger 
brother among her siblings. The oldest sister of sister(s) may 
sometimes seek her out too, although she, the oldest sister of 
brother (s), would not care too much for her friendship. As a 
matter of fact, her chief attraction for the oldest sister of sister (s) 
would be her ease with boys. The latter would also try to learn 
from the oldest sister of brother (s) how to win them, but she 
cannot usually count on one thing: getting a boy from her. On the 
contrary, she may lose a boy whom she has picked to her man- 
wise girl friend, the oldest sister of brother (s). An only child 
may be a little more inviting as a friend to the oldest sister of 
brother (s), particularly when the singleton is willing to be not only 
the pampered child but also obedient to her friend in all matters 
that really count, i. e., boys. The chances for friendship are best 
when the only child's mother has been a youngest sister or a close 

If the oldest sister of brother (s) has had many brothers, it will 
be proportionately harder for her to ever settle for one man only. 
She may still marry, but keep a whole flock of men around old 
friends of hers, friends of her husband, or her own brothers. She 
may be the great woman to whom men come for advice, consola 
tion, and comfort: the haven of their ambitions, longings, and suf 
ferings. She may be the maternal and indirect manager of their 
artistic, literary, and scientific pursuits, sometimes of no more 
than their hobbies. She may set up a home where she houses 
and nurses budding or broke writers. She may be the patron of 


great scientists; she knows that underneath their brilliant surfaces 
they are children. She may be hostess to men's business and polit 
ical gatherings; or the professional hostess in men's clubs, military 
units and outposts; or the only woman in a parish, taking care of 
its clergymen's earthly needs. She may do just that for her own 
brothers: keep house for them or administer the family's estate 
so that they will always have something to come back to. The more 
lopsided her sibling situation has been, the more likely is she to 
take all such ventures seriously, more so than marriage, prospects 
of children of her own, or any relationship with one man only. 

Politically the oldest sister of brother (s) tends to advocate 
moderation above everything else. She will be more sympathetic 
to the opposition's point of view than her fellow partisans may like 
her to be, but she will not really be on the opposition's side either. 
She believes that, through mediation and discussion, if possible 
under her auspices, everybody on earth could come to an under 
standing with everybody else. If they don't, they have not listened 
to their wives. Because if wives were all like her and she cannot 
quite see why they should not be they would guide their husband 
politicians, governors, mayors, senators to do the right thing that 
will bring peace and comfort to everybody. If she happens to be a 
politician's wife herself, she will often excel in advising him clev 
erly, even in running a good portion of his affairs, yet all of it 
unofficially and without demanding public recognition. She is 
content to govern from behind the scenes, merely as a wife and 
woman. She almost could not do it any other way. If put in a 
responsible position and prevented from picking younger, talented 
men with fast minds and a devotion to somewhat senior women to 
help her, she may have very few ideas of her own. 

In religion she tends to be above it all. Her brothers may have 
had to be religious, and she may have watched that they were, but 
she would not be sure whether she believes what she preaches, 
Religion is good for them. She knows that much. However, religion 
has been made by men much like those whom she directs, she 
thinks. Religion is a matter of inspiration and genius, but neither 
would amount to much without kind and caring females. They have 
always helped the prophets, demigods, and gods along. Proof is 


that in many religions women play a secondary role and can assume 
only inferior status. Who can make that up but some man oblivious 
to the services of women that as much as keep him alive? He is 
oblivious because he has had the services all his life. They have 
come to him without asking (usually from older sisters, or from 
mothers, especially from those who had lost, or never had, hus 
bands). That is why he knows only half the story of life, and that, 
in turn, is why all men should be helped and educated to be 
religious, why religious men must be helped in order to survive, 
and why even God himself can be really understood only by loving 
and responsible women. 

She may reveal all those attitudes about religion to none but 
the scrutinizing eye. As for philosophy, however, she will usually 
feel free to express her point of view. Where would the philosophers 
of all times be, were it not for women who looked after them and 
enabled them to sit back and think it all up? If they had men to 
look after them, servants of one kind or another, please, take notice 
of the barrenness of their philosophies. Not even philosophers can 
do without muses, muses who do the cooking, sewing, cleaning, 
nursing, together with sympathetic listening. Those things are the 
"kiss" of muses that spells productivity for them. Which goes to 
prove that all philosophy starts in the kitchen. If married to a 
philosopher herself, she may feel that she has to make demands 
on him, say, for a large house, fur coats, or jewels. Yet, her reasons 
are pedagogical, she would claim. If she makes these demands, he 
will have to write books that sell better than others, and that will 
force him to produce a salable philosophy, which will be the better 
philosophy anyway. This may be her reasoning, unless she has 
brought her means of sustenance into the marriage and happens to 
prefer laurels of a less tangible kind. 

Death, wherever it occurs, calls for her help and support. She 
may find herself consoling people over losses that are harder to 
her than to them. She can take almost any loss without being 
shaken, except that of her mother in early childhood. She is the 
one to whom the mourners will turn with their wails. And when 
she herself is dying, she will still do the consoling. Even during 
her last minutes she will see to it that her boys are being taken 


care of. She will deny pain and fear in order not to aggravate them. 
She will show them how to die, so that they have something to go 
by when their own bells are tolling. 

The person hardest to lose in her early childhood would be her 
mother, as already mentioned. She needs her guidance as to how 
to take care of her brothers and her father. Without it she does 
not really know how to satisfy their demands, particularly in an 
emergency, although even then she sometimes rises to it by sen 
sitive inference. At a later time in her life, however, neither the 
loss of mother nor of father can shatter her. She has already caught 
on to her responsibilities, which are her brothers, and will grow to 
almost any stature that their situation may call for. She can stand 
hell and do miracles as long as she has her brothers. Only if she 
should lose them too, together with her parents, will she be at an 
utter loss, no matter how comfortably she may have been put up 
with foster parents (except maybe those who want her to be the 
oldest sister to their own little boys; but how many potential foster 
parents would want just that?). In later life her conscious suffering 
from a loss of her father will be greater than when losing her 
mother. Apart from the mother, she was the only girl in the house, 
a good, reasonable, and responsible one at that, and he (usually) 
a doting father. The loss of the mother, however, might arouse 
some guilt, no matter how benign and apparently without conflicts 
her attitude to her mother may have been. The loss gives her all 
the men in the family, and that is more than she remembers ever 
wanting. She doubts that this can go well. Hence, the mother's 
loss may still be the more difficult one to bear even now. The loss 
of any one brother can be taken in stride, as long as it was not 
due to any conceivable fault of hers, and as long as the others 
remain. Again, the conscious experience may be violent, but not 
too protracted and consequential. Guilt does not bother her too 
much either. She may have had strong feelings of rivalry, when her 
brothers firs ; arrived, but as soon as she realized they were boys all 
was fine. Even if she has continued to hate one of them, she can 
take care of her pangs of conscience, should he be the one lost. 
Her hatred has been articulate. She remembers the time when the 


little brat had not even been born. She knows what she wishes, and 
she can bury it efficiently once the wish has come true. 

Ordinarily she must be very hard up in order to seek psycho 
logical help or guidance. At most times and in most cases she can 
take care of herself as well as of others. She would much rather 
act the counsellor or become a psychotherapist herself. If she does, 
she is usually better with males than with females, particularly 
when the males have had sisters; on the whole, she is rather easy 
going and good. 


The Youngest Sister of Brother(s) 

She can attract men better than other girls can. This holds for 
most men. She is usually everything a man wants a girl to be: 
feminine, friendly, and kind; sensitive and tactful; submissive 
without being subservient, devoted; a good companion of men 
or at least a rather good sport. In some cases she may be on the 
extravagant side, or somewhat oblivious of a man's feelings, and 
occasionally quite selfish, but seldom on serious issues nor ever 
when she has committed herself to a man. She is a little non 
descript in other respects. Even with rather special talents she 
does not tend to make a career with them. She may start one, 
but any worthwhile man can sway her into marriage and mother 
hood and the latter may come about by accident. 

She is in no hurry. She can wait gracefully. Things are often 
working in her favor without her efforts, at least without all but 
the very feminine ones. She does not seek mediators, people in 
power, with services and benefits to give away. Yet she may still 
find such people. To a greater extent than other women, she is 
guided by her feelings and instincts but not too infrequently she 
may be their victim. If a man has got hold of her, she cannot let 
him go. He may be a notorious no-good, a lousy provider. When 
drunk, and even when sober, he may beat her, and yet she will 
take it all. She will even defend him against others. Sometimes 
her brothers may have to rescue her by force, and even then she 
may use the first occasion to return to her villain, who, she feels, 
has got something that no other man she met had. Usually, how 
ever, she can be protected by her family from making a poor choice 


like that although she hardly needs that protection. She senses the 
kind of trouble she may be in, and if she could find a man who 
is similar but more able and composed, she herself would prefer 

At work she is the ideal employee, the best person to work 
under somebody's guidance. She is an excellent secretary, par 
ticularly to men. She keeps track of everything she is supposed 
to and does not have to be told in detail. She senses what is at 
stake, even when she does not understand it in all its aspects. 
And she serves the purposes of her work by serving the, men from 
whose minds and hearts those purposes have sprung. She gets 
along well with her male fellow workers. They find her nice, 
charming, considerate, and trustworthy, although a little too loyal 
to her boss and her duties. Women do not always like her. Yet 
they are seldom able to put their fingers on what they are griping 
about. She is not friendly enough to them. She is not on their 
side. She goes after the boss that's all she ever does. Such may 
be their comments, and they contain a speck of truth. The youngest 
sister of brother (s) does all this but she does not do it on purpose. 
These things are just happening to her. She does not play the 
cutie. She really and naturally is one, at least in many cases. 

Material possessions mean almost nothing to her, even though 


they are usually bestowed on her more generously than on others. 
She is the little one and the only girl among the children in the 
family. So it is not only her father who chips in a large chunk 
of property. Her brothers may feel like doing the same, or if they 
have any influence on her choice of suitors, they may try to get 
her the richest of them all. Material possessions mean so little, 
because they seem to come so freely and easily. She has not had 
to work for them, and she will readily sacrifice them, if this is 
what her beloved man wants of her. Hence, what she retains or 
builds up will depend almost exclusively on the husband she gets. 

Once married she would want to get a housekeeper soon, even 
to take her parents 5 maid along to her new house. She would 
want to entrust the household chores to her, so that she herself 
can be the beautiful and devoted wife of her husband. Yet she 
will just as happily do all the chores herself, if circumstances 
should demand it. Her greatest material possession is her hus 
band, and if she has found the right one, this holds without 
reservations. She will go along with him faithfully and graciously, 
whether he mounts to the highest ranks in his career or in wealth, 
or has one stroke of hard luck after another. She will often, indeed, 
be so faithful and gracious that it may move other people to tears. 
They might try to help her selflessly, and that includes men even 
the wolves, at least after their attempts at seducing her have 
failed. The youngest sister of brother (s) is likely to have a lawyer, 
a doctor, a pharmacist, a decorator, and an architect among her 
friends whom she can call upon for advice, appraisals, and help. 

Men tend to adore her. Without wanting to, she is likely to 
attract suitors wherever she goes, and she will never abuse an 
easy conquest. She is nice and charming with everyone, even those 
who are not too popular or skillful with girls. Not infrequently she 
does make men really crazy about her. They love her, even if 
they can never get her, and she has her ways literally as well as 
implicitly of promising nothing that she would not ordinarily be 
willing and able to keep. She has learned to take her time with 
her brothers, and she continues to feel that the supply of men is 
ample, even if It is not. She is convinced that it is never too late, 
so that it may occasionally happen that she becomes an old maid. 


But she will still retain her charm and rarely be without some 
kind of suitor or lover. Old or married men fall for her, dote on 
her, and may ruin themselves, if they are fools. Even then, she 
is no femme fatale. She is not out to destroy them, although she 
may do so, by accident. She may feel that if a man is old, he 
should be able to take care of her like an indulgent father. And 
if he is married and will not marry her, that she is entitled to 
an awfully good time. This is not asking very much, is it? She 
wants a really nice apartment, one of those fancy cars, vacations 
in some famous resort, and enough spare time to enjoy the com 
pany of a few other men. Not that other unmarried girls may not 
do or wish likewise, but they tend to act with a vengeance. Deep 
inside they may be quite bitter. Or they may wrest money from 
one man in order to waste it senselessly on another, who does not 
even like them. The youngest sister of brother(s) remains friendly 
and innocent, if not careless, but she is not likely to be anybody's 
victim who is not pretty much in love with her. 

Her best match would be the oldest brother of sister (s). So 
secure is she, indeed, in matters of men, that she is the most 
likely of all girls to make her optimal match. Her instincts will 
tell her soon that an oldest brother of brother (s) is too tough 
(although he might still be the second-best choice), that the young 
est brother of sister fs) is off on a tangent, professionally or other 
wise, and that the youngest brother of brother (s) is too erratic 
and awkard with girls. Subtly and appropriately, she will respond 
to her boy friends' sibling positions. What is more, their attrac 
tion for each other will be mutual. She is the kind of girl that 
the oldest brother of sister (s) is looking for anyway, and he too 
knows enough about girls to sense who is good for him and would 
suit him just right. By character she is a true woman, he would 
tend to feel, and he could not change that even if he tried to. In 
all other matters she is like wax and honey. This is what attracts 
the oldest brother of brotherfs) too. He adores that. He would 
want their love life to be at his discretion too. In fact, she should 
not have a will of her own. She should be like a timid doe, as far 
as he is concerned. 

A middle brother who has had a younger sister among his 


siblings, or an only child whose father had been the oldest brother 
of sister (s) would also qualify as marriage candidates. Yet even 
an only child with such an origin may be too much the only one 
to satisfy her needs. She had been the only one, too, the only 
girl, that is. She would continue to like that role, but he may 
not let her have it. The poorest match would be that with the 
youngest brother of brother (s). Neither he nor she could do very 
much with a junior. They need the partner to guide them, but 
cannot find that guidance with each other. Besides, the youngest 
brother of brother (s) has not been used to a female peer. He 
will have trouble accepting her sex. The youngest sister of brother ( s ) 
will enter such a match only if external circumstances limit her 
freedom of choice or if losses of family members in early life 
have shaken her in her confidence. 

She will have children either because and when her husband 
wants her to, or when she feels strongly like presenting her hus 
band with a child. She does not want children for herself. She 
does not use her husband to have her own children. She wants 
to delight him with them, and to the extent that he is delighted 
she will be a good mother. She is neither strong nor domineering, 
but she will tenderly, patiently, and in some cases with great 
grace represent him at home, interpret his wishes to their children, 
$nd see to it that they are being fulfilled. Not by force. No, she 
seduces the children to be obedient in freedom. She does so by 
being that herself. By demonstrating in every minute of her life, 
how wonderful it is to love and submit to a husband, and how 
wonderful a man that husband of hers is. She will teach her 
daughters how to be feminine, wise, patient, and yet very much 
at ease with men. She will be the beloved darling of her sons. 
They usually have few conflicts about their mother and try to 
choose a girl of then* own after her model. Sometimes they might 
have trouble disengaging themselves from their adorable mother 
for a life of their own. 

Female friends matter very little. Even if she would like to 
be friends with girls, men will usually take her away from them, 
or she will arouse the girls* jealousy and suspicion. But more often 
she does not seek out other girls. They seek her out, and fre- 


quently they do so for obvious reasons, for the boys that she has 
at her command. Yet neither the oldest sister of brother (s) nor 
the girl who had been an only child are likely to be able to wrest 
a boy away from her. And neither the oldest nor the youngest 
sister of sister (s) are quite as wholeheartedly interested in boys; 
they may also be trying, unconsciously at least, to win her away 
from boys and substitute themselves for those, no matter how 
unlikely the success. The youngest sister of brother (s) just is 
not interested enough in girls per se. The only one with whom she 
might get along adequately would be the youngest sister of sister (s), 
That girl will try to learn from her how to deal with boys, and 
she herself may, at the same time, be able to utilize her friend's 
uncanny ways of arousing the interest even of the fanciest boys. 
What is more, the youngest sister of sister (s) may let go of the 
boy she brought along more easily with the youngest sister of 
brother (s) than with other kinds of girl-friends. 

If the youngest sister of brother (s) has had many brothers, she 
may find no other situation but that of home sufficiently attractive 
in order to give it a try. She may be the one to stay in the parents' 
house even after all her brothers have left. She will remain the 
little darling of her parents, particularly her father, and the even 
greater darling of most of her brothers regardless of whether they 
are married or bachelors. They will return to her ever so often 
in order to report, but also to cherish and indulge her. Or she 
may try to repeat outside the family (more closely than others 
would try) what she had at home. She may get herself a number 
of lovers, either at once or in so quick a succession that marriage 
would not really be possible. She may be mistress to a number 
of men or masters who would all tend to keep her comfortable 
and well supplied with the commodities of life. She herself would 
pick these men, at least as long as she is still relatively young 
and pretty. Under traumatic conditions when her family has 
broken up during her early life, or when some of her brothers 
have been lost through death or otherwise or if she should be 
of low intelligence, she may become plainly promiscuous or a 
prostitute. Yet even then she will not be bare of a certain grace 
that may sometimes be sufficient to win her a husband after afl. 


Politically she is anything that her brothers, her father, her 
boy-friend or her husband are. Beyond that she believes that women 
should support their men in their theories and convictions, that 
they should assist them in their tasks and obligations, and that 
their own virtues should be feminine above everything else. As a 
matter of fact, women should not even utter any such beliefs. They 
should simply have them, implement them in subtle and un 
obtrusive ways, and further the causes of all those men who want 
such women (as well as the causes of all women who are known 
to have acted in this way already). Often all they can do is be 
good, faithful, and attractive wives to their husbands. Other men 
may envy the husbands for the possession of such wives, and 
people in general may respect these husbands even more. If they 
succeed in getting such wonderful wives, they must be tops. As 
long as men will stay in love with their wives and adore their 
beauty, women have done them the most essential of all favors. 
In addition the wives would have to take care of the house and 
their children, and the youngest sister of brother (s) is usually the 
one who would be completely happy and satisfied with just that. 
She has practically n6 ambition beyond it. She does not want 
a husband who needs to be taken care of. She wants to serve him 
according to his directions, even in matters of kitchen, church, 
and children. He should be the leader, and never, never the baby. 

In religion she is similarly conventional. She believes in God, 
in submission to God's will, and also in prayer, in humble ap 
pealing to Him and in the necessity to please Him by her appear 
ance. God wants her to look beautiful, she might well believe. She 
is no great moralist, no historian, no prophet, and, of her own 
accord, almost never a fanatic. She feels comfortable in her reli 
gion, she loves her church or social engagements dearly, she may 
even be able to reflect some of her feelings in discussions, perhaps 
even in poems. But charming and delightful as they may be, they 
would tend to lack originality. Neutral observers may not find the 
tiniest spark of genius. They may even deny that her religious 
experience could possibly have depth, although this would be a 
little unfair to her. What she lacks most, even in matters of reli 
gion, is the urge to excel, to be striking in what she does or says, 


to stun and surprise people by insights and unusual viewpoints. 
For her, even very simple statements are filled with feeling, but 
the statements themselves, when isolated from her personal ap 
pearance and from context, tend to be flat, if not trivial. Some 
times, however, she strikes people by the very simplicity, common 
sense, and instinctive certainty with which she can find the right 
word or make the right comment. 

She has no outspoken philosophy, but she may well have that 
inner, thoroughly feminine wisdom that can outdo all philosophy 
no matter how ancient or articulate it might be. She will not be 
anxious to take care of a philosopher's household, but where she 
happens to be in that position, she may well add a new dimension 
to his philosophy rather than slave for him. She will not let him 
be a bookworm, moving in lifeless, barren thought. She will bring 
gaiety, fun, and love into his life, again not as a thought-out 
device but as the thing she cannot help. Even with an amateur 
philosopher and not a few men are among those she will fer 
ment softness rather than discipline of philosophical pursuit, 
sensuality rather than system, and practicality rather than aloof 
ness. Not that she will show him how to be practical she is not 
at her best in that but her general demands on life will forever 
tend to force him down to earth. Only if he is already there, his 
feet on the ground, can he hope to tame and subordinate her. 
Only then will he succeed in making a patient little lamb out of 
her that will eat from his hands and be grateful for anything 
that he cares to give her. To be with that man, for better or for 
worse, that would then be her philosophy. 

Death can really throw her. She has loved so much and so 
deeply that she can be badly hurt by the loss of the loved. She 
has put all her stakes on one great bet. She had not even a choice. 
It all happened as if , in a wonderful fairy tale, the gods saw to it 
that her happiness was not spoiled. When fate cuts into such a 
bond, she may be so completely lost, so utterly dejected, that she 
would want to die herself. And if others are not looking after her, 
she may well succeed. Very rarely, though, by laying hands upon 
herself; she just won't do anything to keep living, won't get up, 
won't eat and drink, won't mingle with people. That's all 


Among those who share a loss, she is likely to be the most 
severely affected. She is the one whom the others will have to 
console. Directly, she can do little to soften the loss for them. Yet 
by the abandon with which she suffers and mourns, by the "reck 
lessness" with which she summons the other losers' support, she 
may help them after all. It sometimes looks as if she were doing 
the mourning for all of them, but also as if the others could not 
conceivably let themselves go to the extent that she does. Who 
would otherwise take care of this poor little darling? 

The loss of any family member will have about the same 
impact, and in all losses, except that of the mother, there would 
be boys or men around to substitute. They might even compete 
with each other to do the most for her and, in the course of this, 
succeed in both forgetting their own grief and atoning for whatever 
guilt feelings they might have over the person lost. For the youngest 
sister of brother (s), the father's loss would tend to diminish in 
severity and come closer to that of a brother in proportion to the 
number of brothers she has. They can soften the blow. The loss 
of the mother will be more severe than that of the father only if 
it occurs during her early childhood. Even then and certainly 
when she is older she is likely to be successfully mothered by 
her father and her brothers. Although they may hire a woman 
or governess to fill the mother's role, or the father may remarry, 
they themselves will be doing the major share for the girl. Strangely 
enough, from the ways they behave toward her she will learn what 
her mother was like as a woman. Although she may have lost her 
mother so early that identification with her had not yet progressed 
very far, her father and her brothers carry the mother's image 
with them and will convey it to her. Since she is quite sensitive 
and alert to what men want and need, she will sense most of it, 
all provided that father and mother had been rather optimally 

Only when she loses a vastly preferred brother, or father who, 
in her appreciation, outdid all her brothers, or her beloved hus 
band who had dethroned them all father and brothers, her 
favorite among them only then may she not find enough support 
among the survivors. She may perish, at least mentally, or, in 


some cases, wake up to a new reality of life in which she has 
radically stopped being the little darling girl. Yet no matter which 
loss it is, there are practically no guilt feelings. She has been 
sufficiently free of conflict about her dear ones to be free of all 
self -accusations, should she lose one of them. If it happens that 
she has hated him, she will take the liberty to express that she 
did not mind his passing. 

Partly because of her ease and good luck with men, she is 
not too likely to look for psychological guidance or to get into 
psychotherapy, and if she is in trouble, psychotherapy cannot 
usually help her either. She rarely becomes a psychotherapist her 
self, and when she does, there is some danger that she may get 
herself into extra-therapeutic tangles, especially with men, or that 
she may be forever on the defensive in order to avoid precisely 
that. She understands men instinctively and as a woman, but not 
necessarily as an objective counsellor and listener. 


Intermediary Sibling Positions 

There are other typical sibling positions. A person may have 
both brothers and sisters. If he is the oldest of them, his character, 
his interests, and his relationships to people should be a mixture 
of the character portraits of the oldest brother of brother (s) and 
of the oldest brother of sister (s). If he has had more brothers 
than sisters, the first would be more pronounced with him. If he 
has had more sisters than brothers, the second would be stronger. 
The same holds for the youngest brother of both brothers and 
sisters. His character should be a mixture of the portraits of the 
youngest brother of sister (s) and of the youngest brother of 
brother(s). Analogous relationships would prevail among girls, 
oldest as well as youngest, who have had both brothers and sisters. 
In all these cases the preponderance among a person's siblings 
of one sex over the other will bias the picture approximately in 
proportion to the preponderance (see also Part V). Yet all this 
may be complicated by the parents' own sibling configurations. 
They could, in principle, sway a person's character even more 
strongly in the direction of sibling preponderance, but in other 
cases could also compensate for such a preponderance and annul 
or counteract its effects (see also Chapters 14-23, and Part V). 

A person may also be in any of a large number of middle 
positions among his siblings. He may be next to the oldest, or 
next to the youngest. Jle may be the third one of altogether four, 
five, or six siblings. He may be precisely in the middle. In all but 
the last case there tends to be some predominance in one or the 


other direction. He may be slightly more of a senior or of a 
junior, or he may be predominantly a senior or predominantly a 
junior. Consequently his character tends to lean either slightly or 
strongly in one direction, and tends to be counteracted strongly 
or hardly at all by the opposite portrait. If he is precisely in the 
middle, both character portraits, that of a senior and that of a 
junior, would blend into each other. As a matter of fact, that 
person may be a little confused as to what he is. 

But sex ratio and rank are not the only thing that may vary 
with middle siblings. The sexes may be distributed in a variety 
of ways (to be precise: in 2 n ~ 1 ways, where n is the number of 
children in the family), and the sex distribution must be con 
sidered too. It will make a difference whether the middle sibling, 
say, a boy, has been a junior to two girls and a senior to two 
boys or vice versa, whether he had both a boy and a girl above 
him and below him in his family, or whether he had only brothers 
or only sisters. In the first case his character portrait should be 
a mixture of that of the youngest brother of sister (s) and that 
of the oldest brother of brother (s). In the second case it would 
be the reverse. In the third case he is everything, older as well 
as younger brother to both boys and girls, and he may indeed 


be quite baffled, confused, or at least nondescript in character. 
If he had only brothers, his portrait would be a mixture of that 
of the oldest brother and that of the youngest brother of brother (s). 
If he had only sisters, his portrait would be a combination of that 
of the oldest and that of the youngest brother of sister (s). 

If he was not precisely in the middle, but, say, the third of 
altogether seven children, the same relationships as above would 
hold, but with a bias. If he has been a junior to two girls and a 
senior to four boys, the portrait of the oldest brother of brother (s) 
outweighs the other, that of the youngest brother of sister (s), and 
vice versa. If he has had one boy and one girl for seniors, and 
two boys and two girls for juniors, he would be somewhat con 
fused again, but tend to assume more of a senior than of a junior 
position to both male and female peers. (His next younger brother, 
however, would be even more confused than he himself.) If he 
has had only brothers, the portrait of the oldest brother of brother (s) 
would tend to suppress that of the youngest brother of brother (s) 
to some extent, and correspondingly, if he has had only sisters. 

The same would hold for all other positions and for all girls as 
well who happen to be in comparable intermediary positions. Heed 
ing further precautions, outlined on page 111, the reader will usually 
be able to interpolate for these complications intuitively and gauge 
the degrees to which the basic character portraits should be con 
sidered valid. If he is interested in more formal and logical ways 
of dealing with these complications, he may find Part V useful. 
Short of this, the following rules of thumb should be observed: 

If a boy has been the oldest of bath brother (s) and sister (s) 9 
he combines characteristics of an oldest brother of brother (s) 
and of an oldest brother of sister (s). He is on good terms with 
boys and girls alike somewhat softened in the perfectionism 
that he would demonstrate as the oldest brother of brother (s), and 
softened, too, in the dislike of the oldest brother of sister (s) for 
comradeship, male gangs, or simply being one of the boys. He is 
a relatively kind and tolerant leader of men. In fact, he need not 
have a leading position at all and may sometimes still be happy. 
And he will not be, nor feel, quite as cool and irresistible to 
women as the oldest brother of brother (s) often does. 


If a boy has been the youngest of both brother (s) and sister (s), 
he tends to be a blend of both types of youngest brothers, He is 
somewhat less competitive with males than youngest brothers of 
brother (s) are, but also more successful in securing a steady female 
to take care of him, if nothing else. He also gets along better 
with boys, particularly seniors, and is less oblivious of all but his 
work or hobby than the youngest brother of sister (s) often is. 

If a girl has been the oldest of both brother (s) and sister (s), 
she tends to be less of a despot, but also less in need of a fatherly 
male in whose name she can rule over her peers, than the oldest 
sister of sister (s). She will usually have more specific ideas about 
what the men obtaining her care and affection should be doing 
than the oldest sister of brother (s) does. She is less indifferent to 
the ways in which they achieve happiness at work or play. She 
may even be reasonably adept in their particular work or play 

If a girl has been the youngest of both brother (s) and sister (s) 9 
she will frequently be more truly feminine and submissive than 
the youngest sister of sister (s) ever is, but she will also have some 
ambitions other than marrying out of attraction and love alone, 
regardless of geographic, financial, ethnic, etc., circumstances. She 
would be less prone than the youngest sister of brother (s) to 
marry a no-good just because he and she have passionately fallen 
in love with each other. 

If a boy has had older and younger brother (s) 9 but no sisters, 
he usually shows features of both an oldest brother of brother (s) 
and a youngest brother of brother (s). He may even be somewhat 
confused about his position. What he would have in common with 
both the older and the younger is, of course, his lack of expe 
rience with girls. With the sex roles reversed, the same would 
hold for a girl who has had only older and younger sister (s), but 
no brothers. Yet boy and girl alike may find it slightly easier than 
their oldest or youngest siblings to compromise with, or even 
settle for, the opposite sex. 

If a boy has had older and younger sister (s), but no brothers, 
he tends to be like both an oldest and a youngest brother of 
sister(s). He will have trouble making friends with men. They will 


consider him pampered. In some cases, especially when he has 
had a great many sisters, it may be hard for him to relate to girls 
other than his sisters, or ever to get married. It may look to him 
as though he could not possibly do better than he had it at 
home. If a girl has had older and younger brother (s), but no 
sisters, she tends to be like both a youngest and an oldest sister 
of brother (s). She too would not be very popular with her own 
kind, girls, and is very choosy with men, so much so, indeed, that 
sometimes she stays unmarried, or when she marries remains closer 
to some or all of her brothers than she appears to be to her 

If a boy has older brother (s) and younger sister (s), he is some 
what like a youngest brother of brother (s) and like an oldest brother 
of sister (s). These two portraits may even be in conflict within 
himself. He may be most comfortable with a split of the sexes 
in his family and even among his friends. Boys and girls should 
be separate and he permitted to move back and forth between 
them. Otherwise his oldest brother, or oldest brothers of sister (s) 
among his friends, may outdo him with the girls, he feels, and 
he is often correct. 

If a boy has older sister (s) and younger brother (s), he, too, 
has to assume a different rank for females and males, and may 
also tend to wish, or keep, them apart while being with them, 
although he usually feels somewhat less urgent about it than the 
middle sibling of older brother(s) and younger sister (s). After 
all, he is the first, and oldest, boy. The girls are his masters only 
as far as they behave like little mothers. 

Middle siblings who are girls would show analogous trends. 
If they have had older sisters and younger brothers, they tend to 
be submissive with their sisters and girls in general, but protective 
and motherly with the boys. If they are in the company of both 
sexes at the same time, they are likely to feel uneasy. If middle 
girls have older brothers and younger sisters, they will be in a 
similar conflict, but it may be less pronounced. They lead the 
girls' submission to the boys, so to speak, and there is usually 
little doubt in their minds that such a state of subordination is in 


If a boy has both older brother (s) and older sisters (s), but 
only younger brother (s), the portraits blending in him are that 
of a middle brother of brother (s) and of a younger brother of 
sister (s). In fact, he may sometimes appear to be the latter, but 
he is a little shy and timid about girls and would not take their 
services, if he can get them, quite so much for granted. 

Analogously, a girl who has had older brother (s) and older 
sister (s), but only younger sister (s), will behave like a younger 
sister of brother (s) as well as like the middle sister of sister (s). 
Yet she too may impress others more as a younger sister of 
brother (s), but would tend to be less comfortable with boys than 
a true youngest sister of brother (s) would. 

If a boy has had both older brother (s) and older sister (s), but 
only younger sister (s), he will show features of a middle brother 
of (older and younger) sisters, but also those of a youngest brother 
of brother (s). In fact, he is usually able to get along with men 
somewhat better than an only boy growing up in the midst of girls 
might. There would also be less danger for him of remaining 
single for the reason that he could never have it so good again. 
He did not have it that good at home. He had not had all the 
girls to himself. Some of them were taken away by his brothers. 

Similarly, if a girl has had older brother (s) and older sister (s), 
but only younger brother (s) 9 her character will be a mixture of 
the portrait of a middle sister of brothers and that of a youngest 
sister of sister (s). She too has less trouble than the middle sister 
of brothers making friends with girls and settling for one man 
only in marriage, but she is also considerably less erratic and com 
petitive than a youngest sister of sister (s). 

If a boy has had younger brother (s) and younger sister (s), 
but only older brother (s), he will partly act like a middle brother 
of brothers and partly like the oldest brother of sister (s). In fact, 
the latter may be his stronger role, although compared to an 
oldest brother of sister (s) he would tend to value higher, and 
enjoy more, the company of males. He may also be a little less 
sure and less at ease in his conduct with girls. 

Likewise, if a girl has had younger brother(s) and younger 
sister ($), but only older sister (s), she is ordinarily a blend of a 


middle sister of sisters and of the oldest sister of brother (s). But 
she will be somewhat less insistent on taking care of men, and 
be on better terms with girls, than the oldest sister of brother (s) 
would tend to be. 

If a boy has had younger brother (s) and younger sister (s), 
but only older sister (s), he combines features of a middle brother 
of sisters and and an oldest brother of brother (s). However, he 
is usually on better terms with men than the first and has less 
need to control or even to make over the girl of his choice than 
the second. He would also tend to be less irritated by the fact 
that he can marry only one woman at a time than the first one. 

Similarly if a girl has had younger brother(s) and younger 
sister (s), but only older brother (s), she will partly appear like a 
middle sister of brothers and partly like the oldest sister of sister (s). 
She will also be on better terms with her like, i.e., girls, more 
content with conventional monogamy, and more likely to marry, 
no matter how large the number of her brothers, than the middle 
sister of brothers tends to be. She would also be less difficult to 
entice or conquer by men than the oldest sister of sister(s) often is. 
Finally, if a boy or a girl have had both older and younger 
brothers and older and younger sisters, all major character por 
traits tend to blend in them. Such persons will be the least descript 
of all. They are prepared for practically all possible types of 
friends and marriage partners, and yet in a way for none. Whatever 
relationship they have with one person, they would already miss 
other relationships. They cannot choose utterly wrong; some sibling 
relationship will almost always be duplicated by their partner. 
But they cannot choose altogether right either. A multitude of 
relationships, a sort of clan of couples with a few single men and 
women mingled among them, preferably when representing all 
types of character within the group, may make such a person 
more fully happy. This holds, provided that this person has not 
been too unhappy with the sibling configuration to begin with. 
If the parents were in severe conflict with each other as well as 
with some of their children, or if losses have struck either the 
parents or the person and the siblings themselves, he or she may 
be unhappy indeed, confused about what he really is, male or 



female, the guide or the guided, boss of males or of females, or 
rather their subordinate, etc., and even anxious to leave the family 
as soon as possible sometimes in order to emigrate to a distant 
land and start all over, sometimes to help others help themselves. 
What should also be ' considered and may well make a dif 
ference on the grounds outlined before (see page 15 ), is the 
age difference among the siblings. The smaller it is between any 
two of them, the greater and more inextricable is the influence 
that they would be likely to exert on each other. The greater the 
age difference, the smaller this influence. A difference of six 
years or more may make semi-singletons of the siblings involved, 
provided there are only two, or if the others are separated from 
them by even wider age gaps. In a larger number of siblings, 
those that are closer to each other in age are likely to form closer 
ties than they would with the rest. 

Even mere proximity in sibling position may tip the balance. 
The sibling who is a person's immediate neighbor has a greater 
effect than a sibling farther away. Thus, if a boy has been followed 
by a younger brother and by two still younger sisters, the character 


of the oldest brother of brother (s) would dominate to a degree 
over that of the oldest brother of sister (s). By the same token the 
younger of the two brothers may be a more even t blend between 
a youngest brother of brother(s) and the oldest brother of sister(s), 
whereas the youngest girl would show more strongly the features of 
a youngest sister of sister (s) than of a youngest sister of brother (s) . 
What might happen in this constellation is that the second brother 
and the older of the girls form one couple, and the oldest brother 
and the youngest sister another, willynilly. Before the last child 
had arrived, the oldest brother may have adopted the baby girl 
in the family. After he had put up with his younger brother, she 
was not threatening him as a rival, especially since she was of the 
opposite sex. (As a matter of fact, such a combination may be 
something like an exception to the proximity-law. The sibling 
once removed from the person in question may be like a direct 
neighbor, if the sibling in between is of the same sex as the person 
in question.) If, however, as in the example given, there is still 
another sibling of the opposite sex following, proximity may 
win. The middle two form the stronger of the two pairs, and their 
characters get built accordingly. 

With a larger number of siblings, there is always a tendency 
to split up into smaller groups. Age gaps, proximity, sex distribu 
tion, but also special events at certain times, such as migration, 
substitution of a parent, who has left or died, loss of a sibling, 
etc., determine the subdivisions. Uneven number of boys and girls 
may still lead to the formation of couples, but leave out the rest. 
Any such sibling may be a mild kind of outcast or a member 
of the peer group that is merely not fully in on things that matter. 
Even a sibling configuration of boys only, or of girls only, may 
split up into subgroups. A physically stronger and more vital child 
may pair off with the more passive, feminine, or pretty among 
his, or her, siblings, and a more artistic child may find himself 
inclining toward the scientist, the leader, the football player, or 
the engineer among the siblings. 

Physical resemblances, related talents and interests, but certain 
mutual experiences, too, such as school, summer camp, a trip (in 
which other siblings did not participate yet, one would wonder 


on what basis did fate or, more frequently and particularly, the 
parents single them out for such an experience in the first place), 
or even traumatic events, accidents, losses, etc., may also make 
for closer bonds between some of the siblings. In case of a person 
coming from a large family and holding an intermediary position 
among his siblings, it may be wise to establish by some means 
who his closest siblings were. But merely asking him who he was 
closest to or who he liked best may not always do the trick. Firmer 
and more chronic criteria, such as frequency and duration of 
actual contact, sharing rooms, common residences away from 
home, etc., may have to be traced before the observer can judge 
a relationship. Otherwise the person questioned may well be 
referring to the siblings he would most want to be like rather 
than to be with, i.e., to a relationship of identification rather than 
one that is complementary and mutual. All of these considerations 
would hold likewise for females. 

It should also be mentioned that in rapidly growing societies 
intermediary sibling positions are bound to outnumber those at 
the ends. Families with five or more children may be frequent. 
Yet, in the modern and more industrialized societies, families of 
four or three children are more likely, and in cities the average 
is even less. Therefore, one could say that the sibling positions 
which are discussed more fully in this book are in the upsurge. 
Apart from that, the major portraits outlined are likely to recur 
more frequently than expected even in large families, not only as 
blends of two or three portraits, but even in fair purity. A sibling 
configuration of, say, twelve children will inevitably split up, 
usually in a number of ways, and identifications may cut across 
them. By age and otherwise, the oldest sibling of such a family 
could potentially be the parent of the youngest. There may be 
two or three older brothers, one of them specifically of sisters, 
because two girls followed him. Then there may have been an 
age gap, and still another girl may lead the rest of the siblings. 
Analogous considerations would hold for younger siblings. 


The Only Child 

Trivial as it may sound, the chief characteristic of the only 
child is that he is the only one of his kind, and that he remains 
a child often way into adulthood. He or she has not been used 
to the omnipresence of other children at home. Neighbors or 
cousins cannot make up for it, because they are not around the 
house at almost all times and occasions as siblings are. With foster 
siblings it is a different story, but even with them it will be estab 
lished shortly in his, or her, mind that he, or she, is the only true 
child. The others are secondary fixtures. They seldom have the im 
pact that real siblings would have on a child who has been the only 
one merely until they arrived. In fact, all oldest siblings have been 
single children for a while. It has been indicated (pages 33, 72) 
therein lies even a certain advantage over their siblings, at least 
those of the same sex. When the oldest siblings recognize that 
their position is being contested by the newcomers, they have a 
clearer idea of what to wish for than their siblings ever will. 
They want to get rid of them and reinstate the original condi 
tion. Hence they can curb, control, and even "forget" the wish, 
better than younger siblings of the same sex can. Hence the 
irresistible urge of the latter to compete with, outdo, overcome, or 
dispose of, seniors or all those supposedly better than themselves. 

For the only child, even more than for all other sibling posi 
tions, it is hard to imagine, let alone assume, any sibling position 
but the one he or she has actually held. Hence what might have 
happened to the only child the thought that he, or she, might 
have become the senior sibling will dwindle in its effectiveness 


about as fast as a senior sibling forgets that he ever was an only 
child. Time works in favor of what happened in reality rather 
than in favor of any possibilities that remain imaginary. 

In case of a male, the only child is used to being the favorite 
of two adults, his parents, their pride and joy. He is used to 
winning acclaim, arousing sympathy, concern, sorrow, and the like, 
and getting all possible support on a moment's notice. Hence he 
will tend to believe at work that, here too, he should be the center 
of his peers' and his superiors' attention. He does not admit to it 
but may believe, notwithstanding, that his entire work situation 
has been arranged so that he may display his talents. Yet he 
does not mind revealing his faults and shortcomings either. He 
may even be blandly ready to make a fool of himself, as long as 
he succeeds in capturing everybody's attention. 

Material possessions are of little importance in and of them 
selves. Implicitly he knows that his greatest assets, other than 
his own actual- and sometimes great talents, are his parents or 
those who come after them and are willing to take their part 
But he will take whatever they bestow on him for granted and 
have it end right there. That is, he would not of his own accord 


tend to think of improving the estate and finally passing it on to 
others, such as his relatives or children. Yet if, for one reason or 
another, material possessions have captured his fancy, or if they 
turn out to be instrumental to longed-for pleasures and expe 
riences, or if they throw the necessary light on the stage of his 
existence, things may be different. If, indeed, his talents do make 
him a star, he can be found dictating his own prices arbitrarily 
and accumulating possessions or money in conspicuous quantities. 

In his relationship to women as well as in his friendships with 
males, one could say that he is prepared for all types of partners. 
Yet he is not really ready for any peer relationship at all. He will 
rather be looking for mother and father figures respectively. They 
may have to let him be the infant prodigy forever and may have 
to take care of his wordly affairs. The spouse had better see to 
it that there be no children (especially when she is an only child 
herself), or perhaps just one child, and that she can take care by 
herself of everything involved (or, in cases where she is an only 
child, that adequate help and support by a parent or parent figure 
is guaranteed). Her husband does not have much use for children 
except maybe for one that turns out to be the spitting image of 
himself. The friends of an only male child had better count on 
no great sacrifices, although, for the heck of it, he may some 
times make them. Then, however, they usually come not because 
of their need, but because the sacrifices matter so little to the 

The only way in which he can assume features of a sibling 
position other than that of a singleton is by identification with his 
parents, mostly his father. And since there is no sibling around, 
no brother or sister to practice his identification on, he will have 
to turn to his mother. There, however, he gets into conflict with 
his actual age. He would act a part that is beyond him, no matter 
how composed, how much like a gentleman, he may look on the 
surface. After all, he is a child (and his parents may want him 
even to stay one). What may also keep him from adopting more 
of his father's sibling position is the fact that, if he were to have 
siblings, he would be their senior. They could only come after 
him. If they came before him, they would already have been 


there by the time he was born. This possibility, however remote 
it may seem to him, might make the male singleton take after 
his father somewhat more easily when the father had been an 
oldest brother of brother(s) and/or sister(s) or a singleton him 
self. All other paternal sibling positions would be in conflict with 
what he, the son, might have been besides a singleton. The spouse 
to get along better than others with such an only child would be 
a junior, preferably of brother (s). In fact, of all comparable 
matches with strict peers, psychologically speaking, that any male 
singleton can make this might turn out well as often as the 
logically best: an oldest sister of brother (s). Sometimes a middle 
sister who combines both features may also do. 

In case of a female, the only child would show similar trends. 
She would tend to be somewhat more capricious, extravagant, and 
even selfish, than other girls. It is rather difficult for her to 
understand what really goes on in other people's minds, except 
for those few who seem to understand hers. She may be obedient 
and responsible to her parents, but only if they are crazy about 


her, and if they do on most occasions what she wants them to. 
She comes to believe, tacitly or even loudly, that she is the most 
precious of all princesses, and there is hardly a prince who would 
be good enough for her. He may be subjected to every kind of 
humiliation for a test. Yet even after she has condescended to 
marry someone, she is prone to run back to her parents one day 
and have them comfort her effusively, while she pouts. 

At work if ever she gets around to it she is often a nuisance. 
Not that she could not work. She may have excellent capabilities. 
But she won't do it for the purposes that her employers have in 
mind. She is often ready to find thousands of excuses for not doing 
or doing things that she is or is not, respectively, expected to. 
She will be a poor sport with her colleagues. And she will exasperate 
even the most tolerant boss, sometimes because her father or 
mother may have had a hand in getting her the job in the first 
place. Her father and her boss may be business friends. So she 
can't be fired. Only where she finds a congenial milieu, preferably 
with older, kind, and extremely tolerant, superiors, may she live 
up to their expectations and actually do quite excellent work, at 
least for stretches of time. 

She wants everything on which she happens to have set her 
mind, but her mind appears whimsical. Material goods may not 
matter in detail, yet by the carload they may fascinate her. She 
may ask for the most fantastic presents and favors, along with 
very trivial ones, and she can get equally upset, if either kind 
does not arrive. She is not competing, though. It does not occur 
to her to ask for more, or less, or as much as friends, cousins, 
or peers in general might be getting. She does not compare 
herself to them. She wants what she wants. She makes her demands 
known, needs her parents and some parent-like friends or even 
"lovers" to satisfy them, and is totally indifferent to what others 
are getting from other sources. Only her parents or paternal 
protectors must not seriously be solicited by anyone but herself. 

Friendship and marriage will usually work out only if she 
finds kind, tolerant, mature, and preferably (much) older partners. 
She is at her best with someone who loves her whims as part 
of the display of her beauty or charm, somebody who does not 


mind suffering all kinds of little tortures at her hands. This 
will hold particularly for her husband. Friends of the couple 
may sometimes think of him as a fool or masochist. If she is to 
have any children at all, he will have to take care of them or 
provide her with nurses and servants. For her part, she could 
do without children. Should her husband be an only child too, 
they will, with great likelihood, remain childless; the few excep 
tions tend to prove that they should have. As a matter of fact, 
such a marriage would hardly work unless both of them have 
powerful outside or professional interests in common. Like her 
male counterpart, she too is prepared for all types of friends 
and spouses and yet for none, because she cannot really stand 
a peer. She can only stand parents. 

She too has a chance of turning into a peer herself only to 
the extent that she identifies with her parents, primarily her 
mother. She can learn from her how a woman with her sibling 
position would relate to a man, and she has chiefly her father 
on whom to try it out first. Yet just as with the male singleton, 
she would have to do more than her age can possibly give. Hence 
she must appear quite precocious and sophisticated in some 
respects, and at the same time remain very much the child in 
others. She may look quite mature in discussions of literature, 
fashion, politics, or even a particular science or profession, but 
be utterly dependent upon guidance by benevolent superiors or 
parents, if put to work. Also she may develop a very good 
psychology (psychological insight, that is) of her parents and 
other mostly older people, but she can utilize very little of it in 
her own affairs, particularly with people of her own age. Since 
she too would be a potential senior all siblings she might have 
had would have had to come after her; otherwise they would 
have been there already she would pick up her mother's sibling 
position more easily, if the mother had been an oldest sister of 
brother(s) and/or sister(s), or a singleton, than if she had been 
anything else. The difference is likely to be slight, though. Yet 
it may be responsible for the somewhat equal likelihood of female 
singletons in general to match adequately with a spouse who had 
been a junior himself, preferably to sister(s), or a spouse who 


had been a senior himself, also to sister (s). A female only child 
would also do fairly well with a middle brother combining the 
characteristics of both sibling positions. 

The overall characteristics of the only child, male and female 
alike, tend to hold up as drastically as outlined in cases where 
the same-sex parent has also been an only child. More often the 
parents have come from larger families and will convey to their 
own child whatever they are by their own sibling position. Hence 
it is more imperative with appraisals of only children than all other 
sibling positions to investigate the parents' 1 family constellation, 
especially that of the same-sex parent. An only child, male, will 
be different depending on whether his father had been the oldest 
or the youngest brother of brother (s), or of sister (s), or whether 
he has been in any of the intermediary positions. He will partly 
duplicate his father's traits, interests, and kinds of relationships. 
He may indeed appear to be himself whatever his father had been 
in his own family. Yet on closer inspection, some features of the 
only child will usually reveal themselves too. 

The same holds for the female only child. Her mother's sibling 
position plays an important part in her own psychological make 
up. She may behave somewhat like an oldest or youngest sister, 
or somewhere in between, and it may look as if she had been 
used to peers of the same sex only, or to those of the opposite 
sex, or both. It will somehow seem as if she could get along with 
peers after all. Yet in a situation of stress, under conditions of 
fatigue, boredom, extreme external, physical, or social restric 
tion, etc., she may turn into the impatient, egocentric, and moody 
singleton after all, at least as long as the special predicament 

At any rate, with singletons the same-sex parent's sibling posi 
tion is the one to be considered, and if that parent happens to 
have been a singleton himself, his own same-sex parent will have 
to be investigated. His sibling position would descend on his grand 
child only in dilution, to be sure, but there may still be traces that 
can make the person in question look not quite like a single 

Under all circumstances, however, one should ask the question 


why there has been only one child. What was wrong with the 
parents? In many cases of only children, conflicts prevailing be 
tween their parents, losses suffered, but also illness, late marriage, 
etc., would all tend to account for some of the difficulties that only 
children seem to be having. 



They are a twosome that is different from that of any other 
two siblings. They were together from birth on. There is no 
real senior or junior, although one will have been born a little 
earlier than the other. The parents may sometimes expand on that 
issue, using it to account for other differences they think they 
have discovered and that they are taking issue with, such as 
resemblances, looks, intelligence, and the like. As a matter of 
fact, the parents may be transplanting their own conflicts into 
their twins. 

If the twins are the only children that the parents have, they 
will behave like brother and sister, like two brothers, or like two 
sisters, depending on what their sexes are. Yet ordinarily there is 
no senior-junior problem. They are of the same age and the same 
rank. Hence, the character portraits of the oldest and the youngest 
brother will blend for each of the twin boys, and that of the oldest 
sister and the youngest sister for the twin girls. In the case of two 
boys or two girls, the pairs will eventually have some trouble 
separating and taking the step into marriage. Sometimes marriage 
to another set of twins may do the trick get them married but 
twins do not come frequently enough to allow for such a solution 
as a rule. In the case of a pair, i.e., boy and girl, the twins will 
have the same trouble of ever letting go of each other and could 
benefit similarly from marriage to another set of twins. They 
would be used, though, to a peer of the opposite sex. Marriage would 
be easier for them. Supplementary contacts with same-sex friends 
will be less urgent. 


Identical twins have an even more intensive problem. They 
have been not only a twosome, as far back as they can remember, 
they have been the same. Hence separation for the sake of outside 
friendships or marriage may be even harder, and the urge to marry 
other twins, preferably identical too, will be comparatively stronger. 
But for them, too, twins just do not come frequently enough to offer 
them adequate chances, although twins or their parents may go 
out of their ways to provide the opportunities. Sometimes identical 
twins may find themselves with one common friend, lover, or be 
loved, and of all same-sex siblings they may mind such a situation 
the least. Since they are so much alike, and since they have learned 
to identify with each other so thoroughly (in lieu of becoming 
one single person altogether, which unconsciously they are likely 
to wish for with all their heart, more so than other siblings and 
even non-identical twins), they can empathize with each other and 
be content with the other's satisfactions to degrees unknown to 
other siblings. 

In some respects it might be easier for twins, than it would 
look at first, to marry two people who are not related to each other. 
The newcomers, who ordinarily have had no appreciable contacts 
with each other, may find it fun to join this twosome. In turn, they 
might help wean the twins from each other for real life and adult- 


hood, so that they could eventually separate, even go to different 
parts of the world, if necessary, without any great upsets. 

If twins do have other siblings, the picture sketched will be 
overlaid by that belonging to their position among them. If they 
are same-sex or even identical twins and lead their siblings, they 
will also show features of the oldest brother or oldest sister. If 
they have come last, they will appear like youngest brothers or 
sisters. And if they were somewhere in the middle, they would 
combine characteristics of both oldest and youngest siblings. If 
they are a pair, i.e., boy and girl, they will be like oldest, youngest, 
or middle brother and sister, respectively. Yet in all cases they will 
tend to be closer to each other than to the rest of their siblings; 
for this they will sometimes be punished, sometimes envied, and 
occasionally even isolated in an active effort by the others. 

If twins who have lived and grown up with each other for any 
length of time are separated, their loss will be greater than any 
comparable loss of a sibling suffered by others. In fact the twins 
may work so excruciatingly and radically toward forgetting each 
other, after such a loss, that they may really succeed, and live on 
as if they had never had a twin. Which only goes to show how 
much they have lost. Milder cases of that sort would be something 
like voluntary breaks with each other in later life, as they might 
also occur among siblings in general. Yet while siblings can usually 
be reconciled, those who have been inseparable at first, the twins, 
may never get together again upon separation. Usually, however, 
twins tend to be glued together more tightly than ordinary siblings, 
and more often stay attached to each other for a lifetime. 

What holds for twins, is true of triplets, quadruplets, etc., too. 
Since these are so rare and usually considered (and thereby often 
made) a specialty where occurring, they can be foregone in this 


Major Types of Relations to Parents 


Methodological Considerations 

It has been said before (seepage 10) that parents are the most 
important people in any person's life. Yet nearly everybody's par 
ents are considerably older than he is himself, at least chronolog 
ically speaking, and they are always a man and a woman. Thus 
compared to the large variety of possible sibling configurations of 
which a person may have been a member as he grew up, his par 
ents offer little diversification in those crude aspects. 

Yet the parents' characters as well as the nature of their rela 
tionship to each other and to the person in question will still be 
quite different in different cases. In our game of Family Constel 
lation, these differences can be treated analogously to the ways in 
which the person himself has been handled. The parents' sibling 
configurations predispose them for certain character portraits 
rather than others, and their relationship to each other can be 
established as compatible, conflict-laden to various degrees, or in 
compatible. In this game, parents are, above all, former siblings. 
What is more: their influence upon a person may agree or disagree 
to various extents with the influence which a person's own sibling 
configuration exerts on him. 

A multitude of types of parental matches can come to combine 
with any of a multitude of configurations among their children. 
This is one more reason to call Family Constellation a game. If it 
would not allow for a broad variety, it would be a scheme or 
tabulation rather than a game. As it is, the variety possible looks 
infinite. That means that only the most important patterns of 



interaction between the parents' sibling configurations and that of 
the person in question can be outlined. 

The patterns discussed are those of identification with the same- 
sex parent and of the conflicts resulting therefrom. Although there 
will always be some identification with the opposite-sex parent too, 
the former outweighs the latter in most cases, and where it does 
not, there are usually plausible reasons deriving straight from the 
principles of the game. 

The patterns discussed are also those of direct relationships to 
the opposite-sex parent. These are determined by the relationship 
prevailing between the parents themselves, and co-determined by, 
as well as reflected in, a person's relationship to his opposite-sex 
siblings. A sibling of the opposite sex, however, will generally 
identify with a person's opposite-sex parent and also have conflicts 
of various degrees in proportion to the difference between the 
parent's and his or her own sibling configuration. 

The relationships between fathers and daughters as well as 
between mothers and sons are, in a way, implicit in all that has 
been said about compatibility of spouses. A parent and his oppo 
site-sex child are compatible, or in various degrees of conflict, with 
each other by the same rules. One difference is, that nothing can 
come of the parent-child relationship, no marriage, that is, and no 
children. Yet, this relationship tends to make all the difference in 
the world for those heterosexual relationships that are allowed to 
develop fully. 

If there are no siblings of the opposite sex (if there are only 
boys or only girls in a family), the relationship prevailing among 
the parents decides more or less all by itself what kind of relation 
ship to the opposite sex the children learn to envisage. It has been 
emphasized all along that persons coming from monosexual sibling 
configurations are better prepared for friendships with persons of 
their own sex than for love-relationships and marriage, but what 
ever training and experience for the latter they can accumulate in 
their early lives depends ordinarily on what they see their parents 
do to each other. 

The amount of conflict prevailing among the parents will, under 
all circumstances, tend to aggravate proportionately the problems 


a person may be heading for in marriage. These problems include 
conflicts between a person's own sibling position and that of the 
same-sex and opposite-sex parent. Hence the patterns of relation 
ships, outlined in Part III, tend generally to be die more pronounced 
in their complications the more conflict there is among a person's 
parents, and patterns without complications may get some from 
these conflicts. 

On the other hand, time will be a mitigator and healer. As 
parents and children grow older, their conflicts tend to stabilize, 
and overtly there may be little trouble. Underneath the surface, 
however, they continue to be active. If they break into the open, 
often over an unreasonably small provocation, they may be more 
severe than anybody in the family or among friends had of late 
been expecting. Readers who have been surprised by such outbursts 
in their own families may find some special comforts and consola 
tions in the following chapters. 

As for research method, each of the sixty-four basic types of 
conflict between parents and children has been empirically derived 
from a minimum of two cases for which the following criterion had 
to be fulfilled in addition: neither the parents nor the person in 
question had suffered early losses of parents or siblings (see also 
pp. 20, 21). It will be noted that one half of these basic types of 
conflict is somewhat like a mirror image of the other half. 


Father the Oldest Brother of Brother(s) 

If a father had been the oldest brother of brother (s), his rela 
tionship to sons will generally tend to be better than that to 
daughters, although he is inclined to over-control both of them 
and manipulate them beyond necessity. In some cases, however, 
particularly in those where there are only daughters, the father 
may learn belatedly, and from scratch, what a female is like and 
how she would want to be treated. His daughters would slowly 
grow on him. 

If a son is the youngest brother of sister (s), he develops trends 
in two directions, that of an oldest brother of brother (s) and that 
of a youngest brother of sister (s). Hence he may be in some con 
flict with his father. The latter would want him to be a responsible 
leader, loyal to his same-sex friends and tough with women. The 
son, of his own accord, would pursue his talents, be taken care of 
by girls, and not give a damn about boy-friends. There are likely to 
be arguments. The father resents the oblivion which makes his son 
pursue only what he likes, and the abandon with which the son has 
the girls in the house, and other girls too, cater to him. Thus the 
son often tries to evade the father's influence or anger. The mother 
may even help him do so, and as a consequence arguments may 
prevail also between father and mother. He, the boy, will appear 
to be the chief cause of these arguments. 

If a son is the youngest brother of brother (s), he has little 
trouble learning from his father how to be a man. It may well be 
that the two of them can get along splendidly with each other. 
The father may treat him as if he were his own younger brother 



rather than his son. He may treat him better, in fact, than he ever 
treated any of his own brothers. This may bring the son into con 
flict with his older siblings on various grounds. They may be 
jealous of the father. They would want to play the seniors for their 
brother and, if can be, learn from the father how to do that. 
Instead, the father will do it himself and not give them a chance. 
On the other hand, if they would try to be like this favorite young 
est son of his, they will usually fail to win the father, feel rejected 
by him, and sometimes come to hate, and conspire against, their 
little brother. However, the more older brothers there are inter 
vening between father and the youngest brother, the less outspoken 
will be the relationship between the two. 

If a son is the oldest brother of sister (s), he may learn how 
to get along with girls better than his father ever did. The son 
may even make a considerable impression on his mother. She may 
find him kinder, gentler, and potentially a better future husband 
(unfortunately to a woman other than herself) than her own hus 
band had ever been. So the father may be quite jealous of him, 
resent his easy ways with girls, despise him for not being enough 
of a man, worker, and leader, and part with him in anger. Yet the 
father has tended not to grant him even the slightest status of that 
sort at home. Indeed, he may not grant him anything that is 
coming from the girls in the family, and thereby intimidate his 
boy, sometimes to the point of incapacitating him for marriage. 
Once father and son have parted they may grow closer to each 
other again, but while together, there is a stubborn struggle over 
who is boss, in spite of some, occasionally even considerable, agree 
ment on life and work as a whole. 

If a son is the oldest brother of br other (s) 9 just like his father, 
there will be little conflict between the two, at least as long as the 
son tries both to stay out of his father's way and to model himself 
after him. The latter would come naturally to the son anyway, and 
the father could well accept his son's efforts to emulate him. He 
may eventually want him to take over some of his own business 
affairs, at least in all those cases where the son has given ample 
evidence that he can think and act in the spirit of his father. The 
old man may send him out as a representative, ask him to set up a 


branch office, or relinquish some of his tasks in order to make 
room for the son. The mother will be somewhat left out from such 
a team, but one or more of the younger brothers who will be in 
protest against the leader pair, may side with her and carry her 
banner. The greater the number of younger brothers, the more 
likely is it that the oldest brother and the father can divide their 
authorities even right in their home. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of brother (s) 9 she tends to 
antagonize the father by her interest and concern in her brothers. 
The father may argue that they should grow up and become men 
first before making the demands that his daughter seems to be 
fulfilling for them. On the other hand, being a grown man himself, 
he cannot ask of his daughter to take care of him, no matter how 
much he would secretly want just that. Therefore, he is often 
somewhat ambivalent. She irritates him in a way that he cannot 
quite spell out. He resents what seems to him like a claim of hers 
to leadership. He is jealous of her success with young men, and 
worries that she is being too kind to them, yet if they are taking 
advantage of her, he is often reluctant to offer her the help she 
may need. Sometimes he cannot even bring himself to say a word 
of consolation. This might be her complaint, but actually she is 
not likely to get herself into such a situation. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of sister (s) 9 she tends to get 
along with the father fairly well. She is not terribly close to him, 
but desires to execute his will and his intentions with respect to 
his daughters, and usually manages to do so. She is the most 
obedient female in the family, but also the most taxing and 
adamant with respect to all others. She enforces her father's disci 
pline. She may even remind her mother of it at times. The fatter, 
in turn, tends to rely on her blindly, without ever giving her much 
credit. Sometimes, he may be outright inconsiderate and nasty to 
her, but she does not seem to mind too much nor for too long. She 
has his permanent confidence, and that is all that matters. She may 
hate her sisters, though, for his greater tolerance of, -and patience 
with, them. As if it were their fault rather than the father's. 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of brother (s), she and the 
father are generally on good terms with each other, although as 


she grows up she may begin to get along even better with her 
brothers. In fact, if it were not for his sons and later on for his 
daughter's suitors, their relationship might be called perfect. She 
is feminine, submissive, and invites a man's help and protection 
in ways that can hardly be resisted. Only she should not invite so 
many men. She should be choosy, spare herself for just the right 
man and reject all others. The father cannot quite see that this 
may be precisely what she is doing of her own accord. She is in no 
great hurry to get married. Secretly the father wishes that she 
would never marry but stay with him. He would deny such a 
charge vehemently, though unconsciously he may still be rigging 
the situation in his favor. Usually, however, the girl will find her 
husband after all. 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of sister (s) , she tends to be 
father's (capricious and even vicious) little pet. She can get away 
with almost everything. In fact, the oldest sister may receive the 
verbal spanking that the youngest deserves. The father dotes on 
the youngest. He may behave like a moon-struck fool, make her 
lavish presents, and pay extravagant bilk for her. Unconsciously 
he encourages her to run them up, in the first place. Sometimes it 
appears as if he were looking for punishment and had singled her 
out to inflict it punishment perhaps for his anger that all his 
children were girls. His last child was his final disappointment in 
that respect, but she is also the last one he should blame for it. 
He is aware of that. When she has come of age, she delights him 
particularly with her treatment of suitors. She seems to tease them 
forever, and that suits the old man just right. He does not really 
want to let go of her. He also loves her spark and irridescent 
ambitions at work. She is among the few persons who could outdo 
him, or beat him to something, without his minding it. He would 
even love her to do it. 


Father the Youngest Brother of Brother(s) 

If the father had been the youngest brother of brother (s), his 
relationship to his children tends to be less than paternal, to say 
the least. He gets along better with sons than with daughters, 
especially with those sons who are disciplined and willing to assume 
responsibilities of all kinds in business chores, routine work, the 
household, and school. If he has several daughters, or daughters 
only, he may find himself catering to them, mainly because they, 
or at least the older among them, are inclined to cooperate with 
any of his moods and erratic endeavors, to chip in the work that 
is necessary, and never really to egg him on to compete with them. 
Why not? Because they are only women, he would feel, although 
somewhat with a chuckle. 

If a son is the oldest brother of sister (s), he is likely to be in 
conflict with his father. The son would, on one hand, be willing to 
take responsibility and act as a guide for a junior. But this junioi 
should be a woman. As a matter of fact, thfe is precisely why he 
resents taking care of his father's affairs. The father should be 
able to handle them himself. Besides he should understand more 
about women. He is old enough. The father, in turn, will neither 
notice that he is not handling his affairs independently, but looking 
for guidance instead, nor approve of his son's ease with women 
and power over them. The father may resent him particularly for 
his luck with his own wife, especially when she is a younger sister 
herself. Indeed, not evea his own mother, Le., the boy's grand 
mother, may be immune to the boy's charm. Yet the conflicts pre- 


vailing among the parents, if both of them are juniors, may also 
serve to wear out, or stifle from the start, that charm of his. 

If a son is the youngest brother of sister (s), father and son 
may he fairly good friends. Not only because with the son's birth 
there was a boy at last, but also because the son grew up to 
realize that he was the first, and potentially the oldest, son. The 
father will feel much less competitive than he would with a senior 
peer. And the son would be able to pick up from his father what 
the father had been a younger brother of brother (s) and what 
the father must have identified with to some extent: his older broth 
er (s). In fact, the arrival of such a son may even do some good, 
retroactively, to the father's relationship with his brother (s). As 
regards the mother, it would be helpful if she were an oldest 
sister, preferably of brother (s). She could furnish down-to-earth 
guidance for both, father and son. And her daughters might help 
out, if they see the mother provide guidance. 

If a 507i is the youngest brother of brother (s), like his father, 
they may have an intrinsic understanding of each other as far 
as they are capable of understanding other people, in general. 
But they have trouble acting on this understanding or even making 
sense of it. What they have is probably a mutual feeling of being 
understood. If the father's older sons have not succeeded in taking 
care of him and helping out in his responsibilities, business, home, 
and family being merely children, they cannot really at first 
he tends to pin all his hopes on the last son. He feels encouraged in 
that, because he recognizes himself so much in the little boy. Yet 
this is exactly what he has no use for: a little boy. It hardly makes 
a difference whether he keeps him intimately around or sends him 
off on obligations all his own. He does not even have a well-defined 
task for his youngest son, to begin with. The older brothers will 
have to take both of them, father and youngest brother, under then- 
own wings. Otherwise the two may forever be off on tangents. 

If a son is the oldest brother of brother (s) , he may find himself 
getting along with his father quite nicely. The father will tend to 
relegate to him all sorts of decisions and even his business as soon 
as he possibly can. He usually continues to have a hand in it, but 
Ms son is the secret, or even official, leader. The father may well 


be able to accept from him what he would not dream of taking 
from his own older brother (s). With his son, there can be no 
doubt about seniority. He, the father, has been the first one, 
chronologically. He has even been his son's creator. And the boy 
does not seem to go for women, including his mother, in any great 
way. He does not seem to need them. So there is no reason for 
jealousy either. 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of brother (s), she and her 
father have trouble getting along with each other. He would want 
his daughter to understand him in all his many (erratic and often 
irresponsible) pursuits. She should even understand the personal 
problems he has with his wife or with his colleagues and superiors 
at work who, he claims, do not understand him. He may even 
bear a grudge against his sons on those counts and expect her to 
side with him. She, on the other hand, may be receiving such 
pleasant and kind attention from her brother (s), that the father 
is not very attractive to her. She too wants to be understood, to 
be sure, but by men, and as a woman. Anyway, she is so much 
more graceful about it than the father, and she seems to be 
getting understanding, courtesy, and affection without having to 
ask for it. Men just give it, and her father resents that she gets it. 
He would want it for himself. 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of sister (s), she and the 
father have one thing in common: they feel misunderstood by other 
family members and even people outside the family. They are in 
agreement on that issue, but they cannot furnish each other with 
the understanding they long for. It also suits the father that she is 
not serious about any of her dates and male friends. That way she 
could stay available to him, say for long sessions of general gossip 
and philosophy in which they can bewail the wodd's and man's 
shortcomings, Even so, the father does not like nor qsite mdler- 
stand the effort and time she is spending on young men. If she 
does not really want them, why doesn't sfae cut them out of her 
mind altogether. Sometimes father and daughter may be scurrying 
after their many goals so fervently that they do not run into eacfa 
other for weeks and months. As soon as they do, though, they seem 
tx> be in their old rapport at once. 


If a daughter is the oldest sister of brother (s), she and her 
father tend to get along quite well. She can do something for him. 
She can take care of him, and he loves that. Only she should not 
take care of her brothers, too. They do not need that, the father 
feels, the older brothers because they can get along by themselves 
and the younger ones because they should be able to. They should 
take him for an example; he, too, had to learn how to stand on his 
own two feet. The father's jealousy will be more pronounced in 
cases in which he had not found his optimal match, i.e., a wife who 
had been the oldest sister of brother (s). In case of an optimal 
match, however, the men in the family may divide the girls between 
them and even switch the girls, on occasion. Under such conditions 
it may not be too difficult for the father to let her marry. Her 
optimal match, a youngest brother of sister (s), would be fine with 
the father, too. In fact, he and his son-in-law might become good 
friends in their own rights. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of sister (s), she would tend to 
take responsibility for the girls and die father, but she would not 
find in her father the guidance she needs in order to take over. 
If her mother has been an oldest sister herself, she may get the 
guidance from her. Yet it might not be quite right that way either. 
Much would depend on whether the mother's father had been an 
oldest brother himself. In that case, the grandfather's authority 
may, directly or via mother, serve as the guide that the oldest 
sister of sister(s) is looking for. If the mother had been the oldest 
sister of brother (s), she would know how to treat, and cater to, 
men, so that the daughter could learn from her. Yet neither mother 
nor father would tend to help her much in the task that she feels 
has been carved out for her: leading and educating her sisters. 
Usually she takes care of her father all right and does him a lot 
of good, at least subjectively, but often she will be somewhat baffled 
and, unconsciously, may harbor pity and disdain. The father does 
not seem to mind this subtlety as long as she produces effects he 
can rely on. And he likes it that, partly out of responsibility, she is 
not eager to marry quickly or waste much time on men. 


Father the Oldest Brother of Sister(s) 

If the father had been the oldest brother of sister (s), he tends 
to be on better terms with daughters than he would be with sons. 
They are his darlings and, sometimes, can get away with almost 
anything as far as he is concerned. His wife, however, generally 
sees to it that the limit is something more tangible than the sky. 
With sons, he is prone to show less patience, and they had better 
catch on. Their identification with the father concerns above all 
his relationship to women, their mother in particular, rather than 
his relationship to men, work, property, etc. 

If a 5on is the youngest brother of brother (s), he is often quite 
confused about his father. He may try to relate to him with devo 
tion and submission, a thing he would resent doing to his brothers, 
but the father is not much interested in him. The father does not 
understand him, the son feels. He wants so much of him, but the 
father seems to give so little. Besides, the son is too confused about 
women the mother is the only one in the house to be able to 
benefit from his father's ease with women and the delight he takes 
in them 1 . Sometimes, however, particularly when the father did not 
marry optimally (did not marry a younger sister of brothers), the 
youngest son may be chosen to be the darling, the baby, even the 
girl of the family, and if this agrees with the boy, things may look 
all right, for the time being. Even the mother may Kke a child, 
at last, who is a little bit like herself. Later on the son may have 
trouble turning into a man and choosing a woman for marriage. 

If a son is the oldest brother of brother ($), there will be con 
flict between him and the father on two issues: their authority 



position in the family and elsewhere, and the treatment of women. 
The son can learn from the father how to treat juniors as if they 
were women. Yet his own juniors, his brothers, are male. So who 
is the leader of the boys? The father, who does not quite know, 
or care to know, how to handle them, or he himself who knows 
almost nobody but boys? This is one of the problems father and 
son will have to work out. The son's other problem is, how one 
impresses a woman. In spite of all his efforts to excel in work, 
leadership, and courage more precisely, to outdo the father on 
all those counts the father still seems to hit it off much better 
with the mother and other women than he can. Sometimes, much 
to his chagrin, even his own fiancee or spouse may develop a 
peculiar affinity for his father. 

If a son is the youngest brother of sister (s), he and his father 
are somewhat in conflict over how to treat women, although both 
of -them have been used to them from childhood on. The father is 
their master considerate, but firm their admirer, and connois 
seur. The son takes the care and help from his sisters for granted 
and sometimes hardly bothers to look up from his work or fun as 
they serve him. If the father has not made his optimal match, the 
mother may aggravate the conflict by siding with the boy. On the 
other hand, father and son may still be pretty good friends. 
Ordinarily, a friendship between males of these types would dis 
solve almost as soon as it had formed, because both men are more 
interested in girls. In this special case, however, they are held 
together by circumstances, and their complementary rank relation 
ship is even enhanced by their chronological age. 

If a son is the oldest brother of sister (s) 9 he and the father are 
in identical, or at least similar, positions and may have a very 
good understanding of each other. But they will have to beware of 
getting into the same waters. They need clearly delineated separate 
fields of pursuit, even though, or just because, their pursuits are 
so much alike. Since their chief interest and attraction is women, 
fchey will have to divide those between themselves. The father gets 
tbe mother and perhaps one of the daughters, and he, the son, gets 
a little bit of mother, too, and another of the father's daughters, 
Or tie father gets the mother, and the son gets the daughters. Or 


the father may get his daughters, and the son may have the mother 
to himself. Such would be their deals. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of sister (s), she and the 
father have trouble with each other, even though he knows how to 
treat girls, and though she would ordinarily be most willing to take 
his orders. She is not the right kind of girl, he may feel If she 
were not his daughter but just any woman, she would leave him 
strangely cold or strike him funny, although he respects his 
daughter's intentions. And she, in turn, may rack her brains in 
order to extract instructions from her father, without succeeding 
to her satisfaction. He will usually give her some instructions, but 
mostly just to please her. She cannot quite understand what is 
missing between them. She may notice sadly that one of her 
sisters, often the youngest, has hit it off so much better with him, 
Under the father's influence, she may turn quite feminine later 
on and become rather popular with the boys. And the father does 
not even mind it. He loves her to have that kind of fun, which to 
her only proves that the world is not just at all. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of brother (s) 9 she and her 
father may struggle over their rank. She does not want to bend 
or bow. She tends to believe that men are little boys who need to 
be taken care of. Otherwise they could not even survive. The 
father does not agree at all. If he has married optimally, i.e., the 
youngest sister of brother (s), he will often refer the daughter to her 
mother, or praise the mother as the person from whom she should 
learn. The mother, however, is not very obvious or impressive as 
an example. It might happen, though, that the daughter tacitly 
assumes a somewhat parental role with both of her parents. Her 
mother may let her do that in any event, but the father wiB too, 
if the daughter can muster an ally, such as the father's mother. 
Besides, the father will notice that some of his male friends, col 
leagues, business partners, and the like, seem to be quite impressed 
with his daughter, and since he is a ladies* man rather than a great 
pal of the boys, this may come in quite handy. She could help out 
there, or even take over. 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of sister ($) 9 she and tfae 
father tend to get along nicely. Not that he would approve of afl 


her high-flying and frequently changing plans. And he does not 
like her conduct with the boys; she is overdoing it. He may feel 
sorry for a guy whom she has mistreated. But even so it looks as 
if she could do no wrong with him. In fact, she may actually do 
less wrong than youngest sisters of sisters who have other types of 
fathers. He may refine her ambitions, so that she will not drive so 
ceaselessly and insatiably for higher honors than the men in the 
race, nor try to entice and have more men than all other girls. 
Thanks to her father, she may even be able to settle for one man 
only all of her own accord, not merely out of fear or coercion, as 
might be expected of a youngest sister of sister (s). If the father 
has not married optimally, though, it may happen that the two of 
them, father and daughter, form a sort of inseparable couple, and 
that their rapport with each other may even work to preclude her 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of brother (s), she and the 
father tend to have a very good and mutually satisfactory relation 
ship with each other. She will usually love "her daddy" dearly, 
and he is fond of his little darling. He teaches his sons to be 
exceedingly nice to her. He can and will entrust her to their care 
with increasing confidence as she grows up, but it will always be 
clear to all of them that he is forever available to her when needed. 
Sometimes he likes to single out his daughter and leave the mother 
to his sons. Yet, if he has married optimally, there is generally no 
question that his wife comes first. She and father love each other 
the most, it seems. That is also why father and daughter, in spite 
of their great affection for one another, can separate gracefully 
when she is taking the man of her choice for a husband. 


Father the Youngest Brother of Sister(s) 

If the father is the youngest brother of sister (s), he tends to 
prefer his daughters somewhat to his sons. He is forever likely to 
press his childhood advantage, whether consciously or uncon 
sciously, that he was the first and only boy in his family. As such, 
he was catered to and spoiled by women to an extent that makes 
it hard for him to be whole-heartedly a father to any of his children. 
He relies on his wife for that, and she had better be an oldest sister 
of brother(s). If she is, she can handle the children, and him, too. 

If a son is the oldest brother of brother (s), he and his father 
may not be too much in each other's way, but the father will also 
offer very little guidance for his son. The opposite happens: as 
soon as the son is barely ready, the father literally expects him to 
do the man's work in the house, to take responsibility for daily 
chores, for helping his wife, even for guiding or taking care of the 
rest of his children. Hence, before the oldest son has learned to meet 
such thoughtless demands, he will live through a period of consid 
erable uncertainty and insecurity, during which he has largely his 
own resources and experiences to draw on. Only in cases of optimal 
{and close to optimal) matches among the parents will the mother 
furnish the guidance that the father fails to provide. But how can 
the mother teach him to be the leader of his brothers? And, if she 
is able to, how can he help but become somewhat motherly, hence 
also somewhat feminine? In that case, he may find it hard to return 
to full masculinity one day and look for a suitable spouse. 

If a son is the yowigest brother of mterfs), just Mke his father, 
the two are likely not to contest each other. In fact, if the 
father has married the oldest sister of brother(s) and is intent oo 



keeping her for himself, and if the son sticks to his own older 
sister (s), father and son may not even notice each other very 
much. And if the son should not be getting quite the care and the 
service from his sister(s) that the mother seems to be squandering 
on the father, the son may be watching his father for clues to his 
success. That is about all that the father can offer him. He cannot 
usually guide him out of his plight or even explain it to him. Nor 
may he notice that he is being looked over by his son. This holds 
for the father's areas of work and interest, too. He is often quite 
absorbed by it, but still does very little to help his (eager) son 

If a son is the youngest brother of brother ( s) 9 father and son 
tend to get along fairly well with each other. Although unlikely to 
be as paternal and protective as other fathers, the father will be 
aroused by this type of son just about as much in that respect as 
he can ever be aroused. He is a youngest himself, but he has been 
the first and only boy in his family. Hence he has something to 
offer to his son who is a junior of boys. He can show him how to 
pursue his own interests, regardless of circumstances and other 
people, and thereby possibly help furnish him with a professional 
attitude that he would not have otherwise. And the son might even 
pick up from the father what his older brothers failed to learn: 
how to make mother and other females, for that matter cater 
to him and offer their devoted, self-effacing services. He is the 
least likely of all the children in that family to become a kind of 
mother for other boys, or to stay so, to his own disadvantage, as 
an adult, 

If a 507i is the oldest brother of sister ($), he and the father 
have no trouble appreciating women, but they are prone to do so 
in different ways. The father takes them as a matter of course, 
whereas the son begins almost from childhood on to court and 
protect them. The fathers principal goal is frequently something 
other than women. The son's ultimate striving is for a woman. The 
father may find his son uncanny at times; he may wonder where 
he teamed to deal so well with the ladies. Yet, since the father's 
wife is likely to be the oldest sister of brother (s), if he has chosen 
optimally, die may not like her son's sovereignty over women nor 


his assurance with them, at least not for her own part, The son's 
sister (s) tend to feel neglected by the father, but adored and 
pampered all right by their brother. Hence, father and son may 
have less trouble in dividing their empires fairly than would this 
father and a son who is the youngest brother of sister(s); they 
find them divided before they make up their minds. What is more, 
the father may discover that his son could even help him put his 
daughters under their father's control. The daughters can get from 
the son what does not occur to the father to give to them. In turn, 
they may give to him a bit of what his son does not particularly 
want to get: their unconditional devotion and service. 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of sister (s ), she and her 
father tend to have not too much in common. The father has been 
used to maternal indulgence and continues to expect it from his 
wife and daughters. His youngest daughter, however, would be 
the spoiled one in her own right. She may ordinarily be permitted 
to compete with men and for men with a vehemence and abandon 
impermissible, if not inconceivable, to her sister (s). But the father 
has no use for either kind of competition. All he wants is to devote 
his time and energy to his favorite subjects, work, or hobbies, and 
leave the household chores and children even boys, if he has any 
to his wife and his daughters. Only the mother, preferably if the 
oldest sister of brother(s), can narrow that gap a bit and mediate 
so that the daughter does not feel quite as powerless and discour 
aged with men as she did with her father. 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of brother (s) 9 she too gets 
to know little of her father, although she probably misses him 
much less than the youngest sister of sister {s} would. She has her 
brother (s) to pamper and adore her, and her mother to show hex 
how to take care even of a man who has been spoiled, such as her 
father. Not that she would ever practice this daily, but she may 
rise to an occasion and earn the father's fleeting praise. While the 
father is not too concerned with her, on the whole, the mother 
would be, especially if she is the fatJber's optimal match, i.e., an 
oldest sister of brother(s). She would envy her daughter because 
the brothers dote on her. Yet she would resent these sons, should 
they try to give her, the mother, a bit of the same treatment; she 


would not quite believe that they could do it, even if they actually 
did. If the mother were an oldest sister of sister (s), or a youngest 
sister herself, she would, again, figure more in the girl's mind 
than the father. He is a little too out of the way for her. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of sister (s) y she and the father 
may get along all right. She would want him to offer her guidance, 
though, and he may fail her on that. But not infrequently his 
competency in a field of work competency that is partly the result 
of the abandon with which he pursues his work may furnish that 
guidance after all. He may not be a very good father, but he often 
is an expert in a science, in law, in a business, sometimes even a 
genius, and that would imbue him with the authority that he lacks 
otherwise. His daughter may have been floundering for quite a 
while in her search for a god, but at last she catches up with her 
father and finds some leadership, however specific and technical. 
From there on, she may even come to her father's full attention, 
join him in his work, and take charge of the rest of his daughters. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of brother (s), she and the 
father are usually blissfully happy with each other. She takes care 
of him as she has seen her mother do it, and as she has practiced 
it with her brother (s). She even steps in for her mother, when the 
latter is busy with her sons, or substitutes for her mother alto 
gether, if the mother should be out of the house or otherwise off 
duty. The father can get along all right as long as his wife is an 
oldest sister of brother(s), and as long as he has at least one of 
the two, his wife or his daughter, look after him. He may be 
perfectly satisfied with his daughter's marriage one day, especially 
when his sons have married before her. He knows that, should he 
lose his wife, either temporarily or for good, he could always count 
on his daughter. She would take him into her and her husband's 
house. Even his sons, more likely to marry oldest sisters of broth- 
erf s) than other types of girls, may provide him with substitutes 
for his wife; in emergencies he could count on his daughters-in- 
law, at least on one of them. The father does not even think about 
such things in advance. Implicitly, he takes than all for granted. 
And his daughter often buys every bit of it; all this apparent 
selfishness, that is. 


Mother the Oldest Sister of Sister{s) 

If a mother is the oldest sister of sister (s), she will ordinarily 
get along better with her daughters than with her sons. However, 
she may tend to exercise too much power and control over both 
of them, and thereby either impose herself too thoroughly as a 
model of identification, or drive the daughters away much sooner 
than she would want them to leave the house, whether for careers 
or marriage. Her effect on her sons may be more clearly on the 
negative side. Somehow she seems to resent them. This is at 
least what they would pick up, and if she is the only woman to go 
by, such as when the children are all boys and still quite young, 
they may be intimidated for keeps. 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of brother (s), she is prone 
to digress from her mother's plans and wishes in various ways. 
The mother would want her to be devoted to a worthy cause, and 
the mother would determine which one. She would also wish her 
daughter to stick with the girls rather than the boys. And, by al 
means, she has to stop her inadvertent seductions of boys or she 
will end up badly. The daughter, on the other hand, may be prasled 
by what she (justly) feels is undue rigor, if not malice. To escape 
her mother, she may get married haphazardly or run away from 
home, usually with a man. In most cases, however, the brothers or 
even her father know how to prevent that. They may act as buffers, 
and mother may not like it. Even if sfae does not mind, she might 
still argue persistently that they are spoiling the daughter. 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of sister (s) 9 the mother 
may get along with her rather well, if not splendidly. She wiD 



behave toward her as if she were a younger sister. In fact, she may 
be much more at ease with her than she was with her own sisters 
or her older daughters. Her urge to subordinate them under her 
will (which tends to derive from some older male's authority her 
father's, boss's, or God's) may have worn off by then. Her older 
daughters would have taken the brunt. On the other hand, the 
daughter will have trouble learning from the mother how to be a 
woman. What is more, her own sisters may reject her out of 
jealousy, and if in lieu of relating to them she would try to be 
like them, she may adopt their attitude toward the mother, offend 
the mother, and end up in neither camp, so to speak. Ordinarily, 
however, the mother does not let this happen. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of brother (s), she has no 
trouble at first picking up from the mother how to treat children. 
Sooner or later, though, the two begin to disagree on how boys 
should be treated. The mother will try to control them just as she 
controlled her daughter, or more so, because they are boys. They 
should learn even better how to obey a woman. They should learn 
who is really wearing the pants. The daughter would disagree, of 
her own accord, but may not be permitted to get enough experience 
or backing from other sources, such as the father or her brothers. 
She would be in doubt and conflict over the treatment of boys and 
men, may stay so way into adulthood, and find it difficult to choose 
a partner for life. Some form of an ultimate break with the mother 
may help her on that, though. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of sister (s) 9 just like the 
mother, they tend to understand each other quite well. This type 
of daughter is relatively least in conflict about her identification 
with this type of mother. She can adopt from her how children, 
girls as it happens, should be handled. In fact, to the extent that 
she has become like her mother, she may be permitted to take 
over, with the mother content to exert her unconditional power 
over all of her children via the oldest The mother is more likely 
to be satisfied with this, if die has married a youngest brother 
herself who submits to her will in all things that matter. She may 
let her daughter have the girls, while she keeps an eye on her, and 
a hold on her husband. But there may also be a subdivision, sneh 


as the mother taking care of her second-oldest or other younger 
daughter, and the oldest daughter assuming responsibility for the 
rest of them. 

If a son is the oldest brother of sister (s) 9 he and his mother 
will usually be on no good terms. She resents his ease with, and 
command over, the girls. Who does he think he is? And why do 
my daughters take to him? Such may be her somewhat belligerent 
questions. He, on the other hand, often sees her as an unduly 
harsh and domineering woman who presides imperiously over 
much or all of the family without much inspiration. At least she 
does not inspire him. She may pressure him into turning out top 
work, but it does not matter to her what kind, and how he likes it. 
She may force him to quit girls he is interested in, to invite or 
take out others whom he does not care for (but whose parents are 
the mother's friends, or rich, or influential, or all of this), to 
marry the girl she approves of, or even to remain single. Some 
times his sisters cannot counteract the mother's influence on him 
even if they try. They, too, may be intimidated. And sometimes he 
might have to run away and go far to escape her adamant and 
barren regime. His father will do little to help him, either, if he 
is mother's optimal match, i.e., the youngest brother of sister(s). 

If a son is the oldest brother of brother (s) 9 he and his mother 
do not get along too well. They have a rank and a sex conflict, so 
to speak. Neither of them has been used to a peer of the opposite 
sex, although, to be sure, both of them have ordinarily grown up 
with a parent of that sex. Mother and son are not treating each 
other as what they are: an adult woman and a young or even little 
boy. They are rather treating each other as powers. Both want to 
be bosses and rule over the other, and their fight may be a lough 
one, indeed, even if niuch of it remains under the surface. As a 
fighter, the oldest brother of brother (s) is in a better position with 
(this type of) mother than the oldest brother of sistar(s) who 
does not really want to fight a woman. The former, on die other 
hand, does not quite see his mother as a woman. Hence he can 
fight more freely, and if he loses^ it is because of his tender age 
rather than because a woman beat a (little) man. The father could 
be of real support only if he, too, were an oldest brother of 


brother(s). In that case, however, he would be among the poorest 
matches the mother could have made, so that the son would learn 
little more about his parents' marriage than that it is an incessant 
war. Mother and son may become allies of sorts, after all. For the 
mother, there is one thing in her son's favor: he cannot and does 
not request actual sexual submission as does her husband. Un 
consciously she may never forgive her husband for that. 

If a 507i is the youngest brother of sister(s), his relationship 
to his mother could be reasonably good. He has little trouble sub 
mitting to females, as long as they let him do in his work and/or 
his entertainment whatever he wants. The mother would be even 
more qualified to care for his physical comfort than his sisters are, 
but she will not always give him the freedom he wants. She is 
too authority-bound to make much of an allowance even for her 
self. Yet, with her daughters buffering her impact and, in case of 
an optimal match, with the father able to identify with his son, 
things may turn out quite welL The mother might learn to 
abstain from too much managing, and her daughters could not 
help teach her that, provided that the mother has not stupified 
them as they grew up. If, however, the mother had married an 
oldest brother, she may force her daughters to gang up with hex 
against men, including her son. In that case his prognosis would 
not he quite so good. 

If a son, is the youngest Mother of brother (s) , he and the mother 
may get along quite well. The older siblings may function even 
more as buffers between him and the mother than they do with 
the youngest brother of sister (s). After all, his siblings are all 
male, and any gripes the mother has had against men will have 
landed on them first. After having had this experience several 
times over, the mother may have softened and refined her approach, 
or, if she has not, her sons may have wised up to her and offer 
the youngest brother better techniques of dealing with her. Yet, 
whether the mother has failed to have her way, or improved her 
conduct of her own accord, reasonably she could take the least 
offense with her youngest son. Of all her sons, the youngest is 
the most likely to develop a good relationship with her, and to 
get to know her even as a woman. This may not be enough to 


prepare him for an optimal choice in marriage. In fact, the mother 
may be the one who undertakes to set him up with a wife. But 
the mother's and his relationship may be good enough in itself. 
They may even depend on each other more than outsiders would 
consider good for either one of them. 


Mother the Youngest Sister of Sister(s) 

If the mother is the youngest sister of sister (s), she is not 
too likely to be very maternal, or at least to be so consistently. 
In effect she prefers daughters to sons, especially older daughters 
whom she expects to assist her in the chores of motherhood and 
the household as soon as at all possible. Only in cases where she 
has had help all along, either by her own mother or somebody 
kind and motherly hired for the purpose, may her daughters 
escape that pressure. Boys will be puzzled by the ways in which 
ste mixes maternal affection with caprice and somewhat fabricated 
seduction. They find it hard to figure her out, but if they should, 
they wouH be well prepared for almost any kind of woman likely 
to attract their interests. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of brother (s) 9 the mother and 
she may look compatible on the surface, but they are not. The 
daughter may be ready relatively early in her life to play mother, 
but she would not have learned much of it from her mother. 
Besides, and partly because of this, she would be reluctant to cater 
to her mother. She would cater to the boys, though, in spite of 
the mother who will often interfere and foul up her work and 
accomplishments with them. The mother may do this out of mare 
jealousy, she suspects. The mother does not like her daughter to 
be on such good terms with the boys of the family, including her 
own husband, particularly in cases where the latter is a junior 
by his own sibling position. Her preference has always been to 
keep men breathless and surprised, but in family life the boys 
might gel tired of it sooner or later. With all her caprice, the 



mother may run out of new schemes in her own family. Her boys 
have worn her out, she may claim. 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of brother (s), she is often 
at odds with her mother, particularly over the boys. The mother 
will notice before long that much to her chagrin, they adore the 
little girl, that they go out of their way doing her favors, and 
that they may not even be jealous of each other. What is worse, 
the little girl seems to be doing nothing to elicit or deserve all 
that. How different from her own experiences with boys. So the 
mother tends to disrupt this harmonious love club, to challenge 
her sons, tease them, play one against the other, and be quite 
hostile to her daughter until everybody's life has become miserable. 
This is less likely to happen, if the mother has been married 
optimally, say, to an oldest brother of sister (s). The father, then, 
may intervene on behalf of his daughter and teach his sons how 
to be more diplomatic with the girls, both the big and willful one 
and their sweet little darling who does not seem to know what the 
turmoil is all about. 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of sister (s) y like the mother 
herself, they may develop a deep though somewhat puzzling sym 
pathy for each other. They agree that being understood is among 
the most essential things in life. They also agree that this is the 
hardest thing to get They understand each other perfectly in 
their longing, but they are about as unlikely as anybody to be 
able to quench that longing. The mother may not realize it, but 
she is getting more actual understanding from her older daughters 
than from the little one. She is the little one herself, s no matter 
how ambitious and driving she may be. The greater the number 
of older daughters, the greater the likelihood that both of them, 
mother and youngest daughter, will receive guidance and under 
standing of sorts from one or more of the older daughters. Those 
will be helped, if the father has been a senior himself, preferably 
of girls. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of sister (s) 9 she and her mother 
may get along with each other quite well Although the daughter 
will have a hard time guessing and recognizing what it really is 
tibat the mother wants her to do, sooner or later she is Bkely to 


succeed to some extent. She will take the lead in the household, 
with the children, even with purchases or the hiring of household 
help. Yet she has to do it quietly, preferably even behind the 
mother's back, in order not to challenge her. Otherwise, the mother 
may set out to prove that she is still the best of all mothers, often 
to the disadvantage of the entire family. What helps the mother 
accept her daugter's lead is the knowledge that she is, of course, 
the real mother. Nobody can doubt that. 

If a 50/1 is the youngest brother of sister (s), he and his mother 
are hardly on common ground. She is the capricious and ambitious 
one, used to being helped in all the little things of life. He is 
the distracted one, the boy who can become completely absorbed 
in his engagements, while the girls take care of his physical 
comfort, But his mother will not do that Instead she may take 
to competing with her son on certain issues. He does not get the 
understanding and consideration from her that he would expect 
from women. And she is hoping and waiting for her son to grow 
up as a man, to become that kind, paternal, and patient person 
who is willing to take a lot of nonsense and to chip in money, 
presents, and work in order to catch up with a girl's extravagancies. 
Well, her wait is usually futile. She even gets in conflicts with her 
daughters who are spoiling the boy, she feels. On this she receives 
support from her husband, provided he is an oldest brother. In 
that case, however, the son may pick up some features of an 
oldest brother himself and become more compatible with his 

If a 507i is the youngest brother of brother (s) , he too has trouble 
with his mother. Both of them are looking for guidance. But the 
mother is not able to give it in spite of her greater age, and the 
son is not going to furnish it either. However, he may get guidance 
from his father, if that man happens to be the mother's optimal 
match, i.e., an oldest brother of sister(s). He may also learn a 
little from one of his older brothers, usually the oldest, although 
quite often he is too competitive or too anxious to be different 
from Ms brothers to utilize their example. There is one aspect, 
tho<ugh, on which he and his mother may be in agreement: both 
of them do not quite know what they really want. Both of them 


may be under the spell of moods, sudden changes of mind, and 
an unconscious urge to surprise people. To the extent that they 
fail to get what they think they want, or to receive sympathy for 
what they are actually doing, they tend to be of one mind: they 
feel misunderstood. They may meet each other on that issue in 
unexpected moments, say in the kitchen, in letters written from 
afar, or in instances of hard luck. 

If a son is the oldest brother of sister (s), he and his mother 
are usually getting along quite well. In fact, the son may some 
times understand the mother better than she does herself. He may 
be able to predict what she will be doing before she would know 
it herself, but he would not actually make such predictions, or 
aim at earning credit for them from other people. He simply 
knows how to take her, and he may even mollify and soften her 
ambitions and extravagancies. If she has not married optimally, 
she may sometimes appear to be on better terms with her son 
than with her husband. With an optimal match, however (i.e., an 
oldest brother of sisters), she need not be jealous of her daughters, 
as she might be otherwise. If she cannot have her husband to 
herself, say, because he is occupied with his daughters, she can 
often count on her son; and if her son is unavailable, she is usually 
able to draw on her husband. Even so, she is somewhat envious 
of her daughters* greater calm and certainty of which they can 
avail themselves in meeting the men in the family. On the other 
hand, she may console herself with the fact that she can fascinate 
or exasperate her husband and her son, who may both consider 
her the most interesting of the girls they happen to have in the 
family. She seems to be glittering in ever new lights, just as she 
must have done before she got married. Because of this charac 
teristic of hers, no girl, no matter how extravagant, will surprise 
the son much in his later life. In some cases, though, he may 
find himself tied closer to his mother than would be good for 

If a son is the oldest brother of brother(s) 9 he and his mother 
are mostly on very good terms. Neither of them has originally 
been used to peers of the opposite sex. Hence they would tend 
to be somewhat shy about girls and boys, respectively, and that 


may suit their own relationship quite well. After all, mother and 
son are not supposed to be too close to each other under any 
circumstances. The son would be eager to lead and control others, 
and the mother, in turn, may like her son's unusual manipulative 
skill. She appreciates the ways in which he dominates his brothers 
and relieves her of some of the details of daily life in the family. 
She likes, too, that he does seem to make a distinction between 
boys and girls. At least he is quite lenient with her. Hence she 
does not have to be jealous of the rest of her children (as a mother 
would tend to whose son is the oldest brother of sisters). In fact, 
her relationship to her son may be better in some respects than 
that to her husband, even where she has married optimally, i.e., 
the oldest brother of sister fs). In some ways, however slightly, she 
might not be used to att angles of the life with a man to this day. 
Well, with her son she has no such problem, and he himself does 
not create one either. 


Mother the Oldest Sister of Brother(s) 

A mother who is the oldest sister of brother (s), generally 
appears to be, and even is, the most motherly of all. She can 
handle and take care of boys very well, and she can show her 
daughters how to do likewise. They cannot ask for quite the same 
favors as the boys, and wherever they realize and accept that, 
things are fine. Only the youngest child, if a daughter, may give 
the mother a little trouble, if for no other reason than that there 
is nobody, i.e., no junior, on whom that girl could practice how 
to be like mother. If the mother has married optimally, namely, 
a youngest brother of sister (s), her sons and her daughters tend to 
carry with them into the world an image of an inverse authority 
relationship, of a strong wife and a somewhat dependent husband, 
and that image may well sway their own choices of a partner for 
life. The girls may be looking for little boys, and the boys for 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of sister (s), she may have 
some trouble with her mother. She tries to be ingratiating and 
submissive to her, an attitude she might be quite reluctant to 
assume toward her sisters. Yet even so she finds the mother slightly, 
but strangely, unresponsive. It is as if something were missing in 
their relationship. But what? Well, the devotion would be worth 
more, if it came from a son rather than a daughter. At any rate, 
the daughter feels not quite understood by her mother. When it 
comes to men, this feeling may be even stronger. She knows 
Ettle about them. The mother, on the other hand, seems to be 
up to them. They eat from her hands. Father does, for instance. 



Yet the mother seems unable to answer the daughter's many 
questions about men. Only in case of a poor match of the parents, 
particularly when aggravated through losses suffered by mother, 
may the daughter be sought out by the mother and let in on her 
secrets, including those about men. Their gist, according to such 
a mother: Men are no good. Stay clear of them. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of sister (s), she and her 
mother are likely to fight, no matter how covertly, over the leader 
ship among the girls in the family and over the treatment of men. 
On the first issue, the daughter has an advantage over the mother. 
Girls is all that she has been used to, all she has ever had. The 
mother, on the other hand, has originally been used to younger 
boys. She does not quite know what to do with all these girls 
that she has now. She may even bear a grudge against them for 
their failure to turn up as boys. As a matter of fact the oldest 
may get the brunt of it. About the second issue, men, the daughter 
knows little, except that the only man in the family, father, is, 
or should be, the supreme authority, particularly since the mother 
is not she does not seem to know enough about children. She, 
the oldest daughter, wants above all to obey her father, train her 
sisters in his spirit, put them to work for him, and make good, 
good girls out of them. Unfortunately, it takes a less than optimal 
match of the parents for the father to be that authority. Only if 
he is an oldest brother himself, especially of brothers, would he 
furnish that authority. If he were a youngest brother of sisters 
(i.e., optimally matched), he may forever fail to guide or even 
inspire his daughter. He may disappoint her no end. How can 
he take all that from mother? Why is he not more of a man? Yet 
if she is lucky in her own choice, she may one day be married 
to a youngest brother of sister (s) herself, and she may notice with 
surprise that he would want her to be more or less like her own 
mother had been. He might even take unduly to that person, his 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of brother (s) y she and the 
mother are unlikely to have conflicts over their authority. The 
daughter readily concedes it to her mother; it is not their major 
issue of life anyway. For both of them the major issue is boys, 


but their viewpoints differ. It is the mother's opinion that boys 
should look up to the woman, whereas the daughter would rather 
look up to them herself. This, precisely, may be the bone of 
contention for them. The mother would want her daughter to learn 
from her how to treat men. She would tend to think that hers is 
the only way, and may notice with misgiving that, at least with 
some of the boys, her daughter is successful in her own right. 
They cater to her. They dote on her, something that may never 
have happened much to her, the mother. Partly because of that, she 
insists that the only kind of people worth being cared for and 
indulged are (junior) boys. Her daughter is not supposed to be 
pampered by anybody. But sometimes, particularly in cases of 
poor matches of the parents, the mother may not mind that. She 
herself may even give to her daughter what her own mother 
should have given more generously to her. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of brother (s) t just like the 
mother, they get along fine with each other, as long as they learn 
how to divide the beloved subjects. Mother can keep father, and 
she, the daughter, will care for the sons, or vice versa. Or both 
of them keep the father, each in her own way, and divide the sons 
evenly between them. Mother and daughter understand each other 
quite well. At times of temporary or even lasting absence of one 
of them, the other can take over, almost as if nothing had hap 
pened. As for her own marriage plans, the daughter is more likely 
than oldest daughters of other types of mothers to repeat her 
mother's match, or at least to make a strong try. 

If a 507i is the oldest brother of brother (s), he is usually having 
difficulties with his mother. She would want to take care of him 
as she would of a younger brother, and expect him to be delighted. 
He, on the other hand, is eager to exercise control himself, and 
to be taken care of by nobody. Least of all, he wants to depend 
on a womaB, especially since his mother stopped taking care of 
him when she had more, and utterly uncalled-for, boys. As things 
are, his mother may even have picked out one of his brothers, 
often die youngest, to be her favorite, her pet, her belovecl. It 
gives him the creeps to think of it. He may try to challenge her 
authority over his brothers and even his father. He would try to 


make men out of them rather than sissies. Or he may give up 
altogether and stay aloof from the rest of the family, particularly 
from his mother. Well-matched parents, however, tend to convey 
something of the happiness of married life even to him. If the 
father should be a poor match for the mother, an oldest brother 
of sister (s) or even of brother (s), the son may find the father 
siding with him. But it will also become apparent to him that his 
parents* marriage is not the happiest one. 

If a son is the oldest brother of sister (s), he and the mother 
are likely to be in some conflict over leadership. The mother has 
been used to treating boys like the little ones who could not 
survive, however gifted, unless girls were handling their problems 
for them, whereas he has learned early in life that he is a kind 
of master of girls. Hie girls may be pests at times, particularly 
when they are feeling the mother's support, but he is the boy, 
the only one like the father, and they must admire him for that. 
He helps and protects them in return, and they ask for it. Even 
the mother requests that he be nice to them, but little does she 
know that he enjoys that anyway. His trouble is with her, and he 
has some trouble with his father, too, if the father has been a 
youngest brother of sister (s), Le., her optimal match. The mother 
does not let the son be her loving friend and protector, whereas 
the father would let him be his. But he is a man and prefers 
affection from females. And this is exactly what his father could 
teach Mm: how to entice women into catering to you. As a result 
of these troubles, the parents sometimes grow even closer to each 
other and leave the children more to themselves than other parents 
would. Which, in their case, may do no harm at all 

If a son is the youngest brother of brother (s), he and the mother 
are usually getting along quite well. Of all males in the family, 
he is most in need of her care, and the most worthwhile recipient 
as she lavishes care on him. She will not overdo it but go about 
it inconspicuously, so much so, that her sons, particularly the 
youngest, hardly notice what they are getting used to. At any rate, 
the mother and her youngest son supplement each other nicely. 
In the course of time the son may even overcome the chief predica 
ment of his sibling configuration: the absence of female peers. 


He may learn from his mother what a (motherly) woman is like, 
and how she would like to be treated. At least he is more likely 
to learn than his brothers are. Not infrequently he marries at an 
earlier age than do his brothers. Sometimes he is even the first one 
chronologically. In cases where the father has been an oldest 
brother of sister (s) or even of brother fs), the parents tend to 
be in conflict and unhappy with each other. Consequently the 
mother may turn to her sons, more specifically to the most co 
operative and pliable of them, her youngest, and the two of them 
may form a couple more intimate than will be good for either, 
particularly for the son. He may be handicapped in his own 
choice of a wife. The father might, of course, contest the mother, 
so that the parents become engaged in a tug of war over their sons. 
If a son is the youngest brother of sister ($), he and the mother 
are prone to be on excellent terms. At last, she has her youngest 
brother. He is all her own. She has given birth to him herself. And 
he has not only sisters who pamper and spoil him, but also a 
mother who can show them how to do a perfect job. If the father 
is the youngest brother of sister(s) himself, the family will probably 
live in harmony ever after. On occasion, the mother and the 
daughters may switch the males in their mothering feats, and the 
men may switch the girls. If the daughters do not always cater 
to their little brother, they can learn from the mother how to 
suppress their selfishness. And if the son is not completely suc 
cessful in luring girls into his service, he will be able to snatch a 
few more of his father's secrets, Not consciously, though. Nor 
does the father intend to give them away. So great may be the 
harmony in the family, that neither the daughters nor the son 
are seriously trying to win one parent away from the other. They 
know that father and mother really do belong together and love 
each other the most. They sense that this is even for their ovra 
good. Therefore they can usually leave the family quite easily for 
marriages of their own, at least as long as they are beading for 
optimal partners. For the son, that means an oldest sister of 
Im)tiher(s) who is as anxious to sponsor his pursuits and to take 
care of his earthly needs as his mother and sisters have been. 


Mother the Youngest Sister of Brother(s) 

A mother who has been the youngest sister of brotherfs), tends 
generally to be the most feminine mother of all. In most cases 
she is a very good wife, but she may not excel as a mother, nor 
does she make too much of a show of being one. Psychologically 
she may sometimes appear as one of her husband's children. 
To her children she offers sympathy rather than explicit guidance, 
companionship rather than authority, charm rather than com 
petence. Her daughters can learn from her how to entice men, 
how to submit to them, even how to serve them. With her sons 
she evokes their masculinity more than other mothers do; she 
is seductive with them. But she has been even more attractive 
to, and seductive with, her suitors and has .usually selected a won 
derful husband who loves her dearly. This fact as well as her 
husband himself imposes (graceful) limits on their sons' love 
of mother, and sets a favorable paradigm of what they should try 
for themselves once they have come of age. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of sister (s) 9 she may wish 
most for guidance from her mother, but never get it in any of 
the ways she can envisage herself. By her own sibling position 
she is supposed to lead her sisters. They require it, she feels, and 
they do, especially since the mother seems not quite willing to 
give it But how can the daughter do it without some guidance 
from the mother? The father could conceivably step in and help, 
bat in case of an optimal match of the parents he would be the 
oldest brother of sister (s) and too busy being in love with his 
wife mid even with his daughters to offer any real guidance on 
his oldest daughter's problem. Sometimes it looks as if she should 



have been a man. The mother secretly wants her to take over 
like a man, and father s a man. Whatever she picks up from him 
is tinted by his masculinity. Hence she may lead and direct her 
sisters as if she were a bit of a man herself. This may be a solution 
for the time being, but it will tend to handicap her choice of a 
spouse. She may be looking seriously for a feminine man. 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of brother (s) 9 just like the 
mother, they are getting along nicely, provided their interests stay 
parallel and do not converge on the same objects. Their chief 
interests are boys, but as long as mother has father who often 
is an oldest brother, preferably of sisters and she herself has 
her brothers, everything is fine. She may be father's darling too, 
but there are limits, If a situation boils down to either mother 
or daughter, he favors mother. The mother, too, will permit her 
sons to idore her, to give her presents, and even to protect her, 
but there are similar limits. And there are also some, though 
fewer, restrictions on the brothers' devotion for their little sister. 
This common devotion may prevent one or the other of her brothers, 
particularly if there are many, from ever marrying himself. It may 
be that unconsciously he stays faithful to his sister. Almost without 
noticing it, the daughter will learn from her mother how to be 
a boys' girl, and the daughter's own experiences tend to confirm 
what she has learned. 

If a daughter is the youngest sister of sister (s) 9 she would be 
the most likely of all daughters to elicit clearly maternal behavior 
in this type of mother. For one thing, the mother will have ac 
quired more and more of it, as she continued to have daughters. 
Secondly, her daughters have sensed her desire that they should 
step in as little mothers wherever needed, and have soon begim 
doing so. Thus the increase in the number of children may have 
relieved the mother rather than burdened her. In any case, the 
youngest daughter has not only had more of her mother, but also 
more than just one mother. In fact, her sisters have even adopted 
some of the father's characteristics too. The older sisters have 
learned to relate to their mother in a somewhat manly way, and 
tiie youngest is the most likely of all sisters to let them do that 
She has the least chances of practicing this hybrid masculinity 


and is more prone than the others to become sincerely feminine 
and eventually to make a good choice for marriage. 

If a daughter is the oldest sister of brother(s), she and her 
mother are in agreement on their general appreciation of men. 
Yet they appreciate them in different ways. The mother takes them 
as potential suitors, as persons that a woman is to amuse and 
enchant. The daughter will discover sooner or later that men need 
attention and care, that only a woman can make them feel com 
fortable and at home even in their own house. Yet whenever she 
arrives at such an opinion of hers, the mother will be delighted. 
The mother does not particularly want to take care of men in 
those ways, although she will, if she has to. Well, her daughter is 
most welcome to it. Let her be the mother for her sons, whereas 
she herself continues to be unchallenged as her husband's beloved 
wife. If she has married optimally, i.e., the oldest brother of sis- 
ter{s), her husband is likely to want just that. He may even 
resent a little the maternal virtues of his own daughter, especially 
when she tries to play them on him. Mother and daughter can 
even be friends of sorts, but are at their best on issues other than 
men. The mother has not much trouble acting the little girl, and 
her daughter eventually even less acting the big one. 

If a son is the youngest brother of brother ($), he and his 
mother do not find it easy to come to terms with each other. She 
is used to the loving care and courtship of senior boys and fathers. 
He is among the least prepared to understand a woman. He is so 
used to being guided by his brother (s) and older males in general 
and, at the same time, is often so much in protest against any 
guidance and so erratic in his ambitions and goals, that his mother 
cannot make heads or tails of him. She tries patiently and grace 
fully to treat him as she has treated the other males in the family, 
but with him it is of little or no avail. It seems he always does the 
unpredictable, the impossible, the tactless, the rude. He is making 
a fool of himself, especially before women. Oh, if only he could 
get an experienced woman, any experienced woman, to teach hiirt 
the graces, beauties, and the wisdom of life. In her fading hope, 
the mother may even conspire to get him such a woman, but he 
Blight foul up that effort too. Only if his father preferably an 


oldest brother of sister (s) or possibly his own oldest brother 
would take him aside and devote time to his inner education, may 
he pick up some things about women. Yet to the extent that these 
men do reach and influence him, he may develop a strong relation 
ship to them, or to men in general, and be off the track again. 

If a son is the youngest brother of sister (s), he and his mother 
may not have much in common either. However, he is in a more 
fortunate position than the youngest brother of brother(s). He has 
sisters to take care of him and to relate to. He does not depend 
entirely on his mother for his contact with females. And if need 
be he can always look for guidance and clues from his father, If 
his parents have been optimally matched, the father will be an 
oldest brother of sister(s). From such a father he may learn after 
all how to treat a submissive and very feminine woman his 
mother. The father, on the other hand, may envy him a little for 
his good luck with the girls, in the family as well as outside. The 
son does not seem to exert himself at all, but is still getting their 
favors. And at that he does not seem enough of a male. As the first 
'and only boy, he should have more determination, more pride, or 
something. On the whole, the parents and their children may form 
two groups, psychologically more separate from each other than 
parents and children are in other types of families. They can leave 
each other alone with greater ease. Hence, neither the daughters 
nor the son will have much difficulty making a good choice for 

If a son is the oldest brother of brother (s) 9 he and the mother 
may get along quite well. He would be eager, from his early life 
on, to guide and control even mother, and to excel in a field of 
work, sometimes beyond his father. He may appear superior to his 
father because of his power over, and skill with, men. The father 
has not got too much of that, or at least he does not seem to care. 
Usually, the mother has not minded that trait of the father, but in 
periods of external crises, or simply as she and the father have 
grown older, she may have looked at her son with increasing 
pride, even for those (on her scale) less important aspects of men, 
soch as leadership, professional competence, and indomitable de 
termination. It will abo suit her fine that her son is not the 


greatest in bis conduct with women, This is all right with her. 
After all, she is not married to him, and besides he exercises a 
considerable amount of self-control in his contacts with her. As a 
matter of fact, she may consider it her very mission in life aside 
from being a good and loving wife to her husband to soften and 
refine her son's attitudes toward girls, to render him sensitive to 
the potential pleasures and delights contained in a woman, and to 
make him a little more of a ladies' man than he would ordinarily 
tend to be. 

If a son is the oldest brother of sister (s) 9 he and his mother 
are usually quite happy and content with each other. After all, 
he is precisely what she has been used to from her own early life 
on, and what she has selected for a husband (in case of an optimal 
match). Her son knows how to take and spoil women. He has 
had plenty of practice with his sisters, and while they were not 
good enough for his full devotion, she herself apparently is. At 
any rate, he tends to adore her, and she loves his gentlemanly 
ways, his tact, his understanding. In fact, she sometimes wonders 
how he could develop such good manners when his own father, 
even if an oldest brother of sister (s) himself, is not perfect, Her 
age in relation to her son may be partly responsible. She permits 
him to treat her like a delicate young lady. But this is not the 
whole story. She has given birth to him. He was still very little, 
when she was already grown up and beautiful. And she is in love 
with father. All of which puts him at an initial disadvantage com 
pared to his father for which, he feels, he has to make up. The 
men in the family can, of course, switch the females without much 
difficulty, but also without arousing any wrong ideas. They all know 
that father and mother are the ones that really belong together. 
That is why they, the children, can participate so fully in the 
family life. Such may be their interpretations. And when the 
children marry, it will be fine with tbe parents. The mother is 
generally graceful and pleasant about her daughter-in-law. She 
can let her son go to another woman. She knows that in some 
unobtrusive and quiet ^ay he will remain hers as long as he 
lives. Everything he does for his own happiness is fine with her. 
Whatever she codd do to influence him, she has done long ago. 


Parents Additional Comments 

The interaction of other parental sibling positions with the 
sibling positions of their children can be inferred by interpolation. 
Intermediary positions held by children may be emphasized in one 
direction or another by the parent's sibling position, and vice 
versa. In dealing with a particular child, or with all of them, 
parents of intermediary positions may find the portrait of one 
position more practical and useful than that of another. In fact, 
the picture that is wanted by the majority of children may thereby 
become the stronger one, provided it does not conflict with the 
spouse's wishes. Otherwise there will be a tug of war similar to 
those described for several of the patterns of parent-child inter 

Single children whose same-sex parents grew up with brothers 
and/or sisters tend to adopt features of the sibling position of 
that parent. One might say that single children have no sibling 
position. Hence they can have no conflict with their same-sex 
parent's sibling position. Conversely, a parent who has been an 
only child though in general he (or she) will not be too good 
with children is in no immediate conflict with any of the chil 
dren's sibling positions. Only if both the same-sex parent and the 
child are singletons may they have something like a conflict. Both 
of them would want to be the only one for the third member of the 

Twins can be dealt with according to their positions among 
other siblings, if they have had any, and somewhat like siblings 
tibeeiselves, if they are non-identical. Their chief general conflict 



with children of their own will be the children's apartness in time 
and growth, just as parents of other sibling configurations may 
have a little trouble wising up to the degree of togetherness 
prevailing among their twin children. 

Some general trends prevailing throughout these patterns may 
also be noted. If same-sex parents and children are having a rank 
conflict, any conflict in which the parent is the senior, at least 
predominantly so, and the child the junior, will usually be more 
favorable in its outcome than the opposite. Parents with senior 
sibling positions are somewhat more desirable and impressive for 
children of the same sex than parents with junior sibling positions. 
Senior children can identify with their senior parents and divide 
their domains. They have the advantage of proximity (see also 
page 111), Junior children can be good and willing children. 
They can submit to their same-sex parents and receive guidance 
and protection. Parents, on the other hand, who have been junior 
siblings, are likely to leave their senior children somewhat short 
of a teacher to learn from and identify with, and their junior 
children somewhat short of leadership. In cases of optimal matches 
between the parents (which, by definition, require complementary 
ranks ) , these problems are likely to be small. 

If opposite-sex parent and child have no rank conflict, they 
still tend to be somewhat better off with each other, if the male 
(i.e., either father or son) is a senior, and the female (mother or 
daughter) a junior. However, if they do have a rank conflict, the 
child's future relationship to the opposite sex may be affected 
adversely. If the parents are not optimally matched and have a 
rank conflict with each other, the child may be able to identify 
easily with the same-sex parent, but would learn from him, or her, 
only how to handle a conflict-ridden marriage. But even if the 
parents are optimally matched, there might be some difficulty. 
In that case the child would have a complementary rank relation 
ship (Le,, no rank-conflict) with the same-sex parent. Hence the 
child is likely to get along somewhat better with that parent than 
wilt the opposite-sex parent. But precisely that may be the wrong 
preparation for later Hfe and the selection of a spouse. The degree 
f coiieoinitaBt sex-conflict prevailing among the parents wil 


aggravate or mitigate all these possible troubles proportionally. 

Generally it can be said that conflicts between the parents 
and conflicts between a child's sibling position and a parent tend 
to be mitigated somewhat by the implicit absence or reduction of 
conflict between that child and the other parent, or between another 
of the children and the first parent. Conflicts that are not too severe 
and prevail along with some no-conflict relationships in a given 
family may even make for a richer family life and a better prepa 
ration for the great big and highly variegated world. 

Monosexual sibling configurations have only the parents to 
draw on as far as heterosexual relationships are concerned. There 
is no peer relationship to prepare them for marriage. To the extent, 
however, that a sibling configuration approximates an even balance 
of sexes, this emphasis will shift away from the parents. Conflict 
prevailing among the parents and losses suffered by them operate 
the other way. The more severe they are (conflict and loss, that is), 
the greater also the likelihood that children will inherit the parents' 
conflicts and losses no matter how favorable their own sibling 
configurations may be. The distance of a given child from the 
parents, i.e., the number of intervening, or older, siblings, wiU 
determine how much a person is affected by conflicts and losses 
prevailing among the parents as well as by conflicts resulting from 
discrepancies between the child's sibling position and those of his 
parents. The greater the number of older siblings, the smaller the 
direct influence of the parents upon a person. 

The parents* relationship with each other tends to bear perhaps 
most significantly on a person's own choice of a partner for life. 
If the parents have been optimally matched, the person is likely 
to come closer to his optimal choice. Optimal matches of parents 
set ideal paradigms. A poor match of the parents, one in which 
seat and rank conflicts between them are pronounced, will put a 
person in a dilemma. On the one hand, he must try to get away 
froua what his parents had and, if at all possible, choose differently. 
On the other hand, his parents' marriage is the oldest and strongest 
example for him to go by. So, how can he plan to choose differently, 
or evea hope to be able to? Hence it comes as no great surprise 
that, in his choice of a partner, such a person often ends up pre- 


cisely where his parents are, psychologically speaking, in spite of 
the hard try to get away from them (see also page 11). Of course, 
running away will seldom solve anything anywhere. Coming to 
terms with the parents, understanding what their trouble may 
have been, and only thereafter choosing a partner for good will 
improve a person's chances to do better than his parents did. If 
the person's own choice of a partner is better than his parents' 
only by a step rather than all the way, the gain is probably more 
trustworthy. Varying degrees of conflict between a person's own 
sibling configuration and that of the parents may heighten or 
lessen a person's chances in that respect. 



There may be conflicts between a person's own sibling configu 
ration and that of any of his or her children. These conflicts can 
be treated analogously to those existing between the sibling config 
uration of a person's parents and his own. Implicitly the preceding 
chapters (of Part III) contain all about children that is relevant in 
this context. Obviously, the same would hold for grandparents 
they are the parents of a person's parents (and the parents are 
their children). 

What should be mentioned, though, is the different apprecia 
tion that different sibling configurations generally receive. Some 
are apparently more desirable than others. A boy first, then a girl, 
and, if more children are coming, another boy and another girl, 
etc., would usually be considered ideal. Somewhat less attractive 
is a girl first, then a boy, etc. A number of boys first, followed by 
a number of girls would appear better than a number of girls first, 
followed by a number of boys, but both would be looked at as 
slightly worse than strict alternation of sexes. "Boys only" would 
be among the less favorable configurations, although boys tend to 
be valued higher than girls throughout the world. Hence parents 
often do not mind having boys only. They may console themselves 
with the hope that sooner or later the boys will bring the missing 
giris into the house. Once the boys have come that far, though, 
they tend to leave the parents' house and set up one of their own, 

"Girls only" is often thought of as the worst of all configura 
tion of children. Yet they are not without implicit promise. One 
day they will bring the boys along. Although, in Western lands, 


An "Ideal" family 

the girls are the ones who really have the option, they will usually 
choose in the spirit of the parents (if the parents have cared for 
the girls). The parents* preferences tend to be their own. Hence 
through educating and grooming their girls, the parents are in a 
sense working toward sons, toward sons-in-law. What is more, the 
children that their daughters may hear their husbands will be 
their grandchildren. The young mother's parents seem to have 
more of a title to their grandchildren than the father's parents, 
although the latter contribute the name. 

Having only one child is often not thought of as worse than 
any of the other configurations of children. Yet as far as the 
effects on a person's later life and crucial personal relationships 
are concerned, it may well be. One would wonder, too, why parents 
could make up their minds on one child only. Not that any par 
ticular parents should have had more children, under all circum 
stances. In some cases even one child is already too many. 

It should also be mentioned that parents with lopsided, or 
altogether monosescual, configurations of children may be wise 
if they gang up with those of their relatives or neighbors whose 


configurations of children lean in the opposite direction. The more 
these contacts approximate sibling relationships in extent and 
intensity, the more "incestuous" will they come to appear to the 
children, and the smaller the likelihood that they will marry their 
playmates. Other, fresher, persons are needed for ultimate hetero 
sexual relationships, just as with siblings. 

Coeducation in kindergarten and grade school may also be of 
help. There the boys get their girls, and the girls their boys all 
of about the same age, something that even the brothers of sisters 
and the sisters of brothers do not have at home (except in cases 
of twins). What holds for the parent-sponsored early friendships 
would hold here, too. The close and steady contact at grade school 
would render the situation somewhat incestuous in its psychological 
effects* The boys and girls rarely choose final partners for life from 
this situation, unless there have been some explicit and considerable 
interruptions of contact, so that any subsequent encounter would 
be one of strangers again. But even then the complete strangers, 
those never met before, have better chances of making a hit. 

An untoward effect of coeducation, however, may be the 
blurring of sex identification by too early exposure to the opposite 
sex. Boys are with girls and girls with boys at a time when they 
have hardly any use for each other, and they may be hindered 
from becoming to any great extent what they are themselves. 
Thus, relatively too many young men and women, once married, 
do not quite know what to do with each other in a broader and 
deeper sense. They may propagate, to be sure, sometimes for lack 
of anything else to do, but then they have little to offer to their 



It has been pointed out before which events and experiences 
should be subsumed under psychological losses, and what general 
laws determine their significance (page 12). Losses have also been 
considered along with the major hands of the game, i.e., with the 
chief character portraits. This chapter adds a few more aspects. 

The effects of parental losses can come down on the children, 
just as parental conflicts do. Both conflicts and losses may make 
trouble for the children while they grow up, and predispose them 
for poor matches for partners with whom they are actually in 
conflict (as appraised by their sibling configurations) or, who have 
suffered losses themselves. The parents' conflicts may, in turn, 
have been the results of conflicts and losses prevalent among their 

The general effect of any loss is twofold. There is the inevitable, 
though often unconscious, interpretation of the loss as punishment, 
no matter how innocent the person lost or the loser actually was, 
and there is the diminished freedom of choice in matters of friend 
ships, love relationships, and marriage. People who have suffered 
losses or inherited the effects of losses endured by their parents 
are more prone to choose partners rashly and anxiously, and 
thereby to hit upon people with whom they will be in conflict or 
who are the victims of losses themselves. The most massive way 
of passing on a loss to children is, in fact, to make a poor choice 
of a spouse oneself: to generate children from wrong premises to 
begin with. Anyway, it looks as if such an underprivileged person, 
Le., the victim of direct or inherited losses, desires to set himself 




up for punishment. The loss, that's what he got from his dearest 
persons, or, at least, that's what a parent got from a dearest person 
of his (and the parent cannot help, even insists on, conveying 
the loss). So how can he expect anything different thereafter? 
In fact, since the loss is imminent, how can he but wish for it. 
Unconsciously he will choose people who are troubled, with whom 
he senses trouble, and who might eventually leave him, or her, 
anyway. Often they are people who have suffered losses themselves. 
If not worse, he might choose an incompatible person, someone he 
could not possibly get along with (nor without, as it happens), or 
someone who would stay only in order to make him suffer forever. 

Loss of father 

The most severe of all losses would be that of a parent during 
early childhood, surpassed only by the loss of both parents. So 
that the child survives at all, somebody will have to step in as a 
substitute parent. Much will depend on the details of this substi 
tution. Close relatives (such as uncles and aunts, much older 
siblings, grandparents) with whom the child has been fairly fa- 
mffiar would be on the favorable end of the possible range, and a 


succession of orphans' homes -with, say, an average of twenty 
children to an adult, on the other. Foster homes, i.e., regular homes, 
preferably of a couple who have already (had) children of their 
own, would be somewhere in between. If the child has sibling^ 
losing them too would, of course, contribute to the severity of the 
loss of a parent. 

Slightly less severe, although still pathogenic in various cases, 
are losses of a parent in late childhood and early adolescence, or 
losses of a sibling in early childhood. Neither one of these losses 
is likely to break up the home. If it should, as might happen with 
the loss of a parent, enough of the home is usually preserved, 
either in actuality the house is retained, or (some of) the remain 
ing family members stay together or symbolically, e.g., by the 
possibility to visit the lost (divorced) person, or at least to recall 
him or her in conversations with the remaining family members, 
to look at his pictures and letters, to keep, or even develop, his 
property. (All of these possibilities could be looked at also as help 
and guidance in mourning.) Even if the youth should end up 
alone, he will, at this age, be no longer at the utter mercy of cir 
cumstances. He can make his preferences known, try for alter 
natives, protest, and fight, in order to improve his lot. This holds 
for girls as well, although they seem to be better protected by their 
parents, their fathers in particular, than boys. Fewer girls than boys 
end up abandoned. 

The loss of siblings, even when occurring in early childhood, 
is still less likely to break up a home. It almost never does. An 
aspect that makes that loss more difficult to digest, though, is that 
the sibling has almost never been as indispensible as either of the 
parents was and is. In fact, like any sibling, the one lost may have 
been a nuisance much of the time, so that his or her exit is slightly 
welcome, especially when the lost sibling was of the same sex. 
Hence the loser will feel guilty. As outlined before (see page 114) , 
ol<Ier siblings losing a younger one may have more reason to feel 
guilty over the loss than younger ones losing an older, even though 
the younger ones may find it a little harder to handle whatever 
guilt they do have. All these considerations hold for losses of 
parents as well In Ae child's eyes each is his rival for the odier*s 


affection. However, one of the worst mistakes one can make is to 
assume that, under normal conditions, a child would really want 
to rid himself of any rival parent for good, or that he could possibly 
be better off, if this happened. The intact family is still the best 
of all in which to grow up. 

To the extent that the loss of a sibling (or of a parent) has 
been welcome along with being painful there will be guilt. The 
loser cannot help thinking that he has tirought the loss about. 
It matters little that, in reality, this may often have been utterly 
impossible. Feeling guilty, however, means wishing for punishment 
(rather than not wishing it, but expecting it anyway, i.e., waiting 
to be hit by a retaliatory surprise attack). And choosing one's 
friends, dates, and spouse poorly may well serve to provide the 
punishment. In other words, although the loss of a sibling would 
generally tend to be easier to take than the loss of a parent other 
things being equal the greater ambivalence and guilt associated 
with the loss of a sibling may make up somewhat for the difference. 

Still less severe losses would be those of a parent in adult 
hood, and the loss of a sibling at that time would be even lighter. 
Not that either kind may not be felt painfully and deeply, but 
by itself it almost never causes any psychopathology. It does so 
only in cases where the present loss is reviving previous, more 
severe losses, or in cases where the loser was still abnormally 
dependent upon the person lost Losses of friends, dates, or even 
spouses, although often precipitating rather violent grief and de 
manding long mourning in order to be overcome, would still tend 
to be less severe and generally less pathogenic than the afore 
mentioned losses. Substitution is usually easier. In many respects 
the person lost had been chosen as a sort of substitute for people 
who have been with a person from as far back as he can remember, 
such as parents and siblings. 

Losses of one's own children during their childhood are 
usually still easier to overcome, although grief may be the strongest, 
most conscious and most demonstrative of aE. Here, sobstitiitiiJii 
is often under the control of the parents. They have created tfeat 
child, and diey could create another. While they are sdH young 
enough, tibey often do. Yet guilt OTCT wisiies to get rid of the 


child, no matter how sporadic and insignificant they were, may 
aggravate the loss. Parents have had to wish for a child in order 
to get one; even more, they have had to wish for everything that 
the child could possibly have wanted or needed. Otherwise they 
would not have known what that was, could not have fulfilled it, 
and the child would not have survived. So, if the child is lost, 
through an illness or an accident, the thought that they, the parents, 
caused the loss, perhaps merely by neglect, is almost inevitable 
even with the most loving of them. 

From this it becomes plausible that some parents who really 
do not want their children, who feed, take care of, and play with, 
them only reluctantly, if at all they may hire nurses instead will 
be seriously bothered by a loss of such a child. They have made this 
happen. They have "killed" their child. And they have often 
trouble getting over this strong belief. Needless to say, the parents 
would tend to be troubled people anyhow. Why, otherwise, would 
they not want children and still have them? Why would they marry 
someone with whom they might not want to have them? Why 
would they make such a poor match? Well, conflicts prevailing 
among their parents, conflicts between them and their parents, 
losses suffered by themselves and/or by their parents, even con 
flicts and losses affecting the grandparents, or merely having been 
an unwanted child oneself, all this may have contributed to make 
the people troubled. 

Among the drastic cases of indifference to, or hatred of, one's 
children, unwed mothers are perhaps the most frequent ones. 
Usually an unwed mother does not and cannot really want her 
child. Otherwise she would be married. Or she would at least 
have a man who would want her to have a baby and give it to 
him, so that the two of them could take care of it and enjoy it. 
As it is, an unwed mother cannot even be sure that the man 
ever wanted her. If circumstances force such a mother to keep 
her child, she will generally be in greatest conflict as a mother, 
aaid feel most guilty, if anything should happen to the child, even 
if die seems to deny it by her conduct. 

Inversely, being the child of such an unwed mother is among 
Ae poorer predicaments of growing up. Usually the mother can- 


not hide very well her ambivalence toward the mere existence of 
her child, especially if it is a girl. In addition she may not be 
able to provide the true, or any other, father. Thus the child may 
grow up without a father, which is worse than having a father and 
losing him. One might argue that the child who has never had 
a father would not know what he or she is missing. Yet even the 
most painful loss has a positive side; it would leave a person 
with some idea, no matter how deeply buried, of what it was that 
he had once had, and he could try to find it again. To a person 
who has never had a father it would not even occur to look for 
one. The vacuum is worse than the loss. 

The worst of all predicaments would be total abandonment at 
birth. If a child lives through this, it may be thanks to ever- 
changing, necessarily indifferent care by nurses, but there is no 
real parent, nor anybody who would consider the child his, hers, 
or theirs, with all that this implies. Even the most ambivalent 
parent would generally be better for the child than no parent at 
all. Such a parent may still cause a lot of trouble for the child, 
but as long as he is there, the child could make some sense of it, 
no matter how weird. That is not saying, though, that another 
person could not be a better parent figure for that child than the 
true parent. 


Examples of the Game 

For those among the readers who do not yet find themselves 
engaged in games with hands taken from their own family, from 
friends and their friends, from colleagues or people they are 
dealing with professionally (as teachers, ministers, psychiatrists, 
social workers, officers, lawyers, businessmen, youth leaders, etc.), 
a few examples shall be given. 

They are cases of persons that have been studied psychologically 
or in psychotherapy. However, a prediction of the type and severity 
of their psychological problems, conflicts, and disturbances will 
be given on the basis of no more than the crude and minimal data 
about their family constellation. These predictions will be imple 
mented by brief case histories of the persons in question. 

The examples will also give the reader an idea of a portion 
of the consultant work I have been doing in counselling centers 
and psychiatric institutes in Boston, Worcester, New Orleans, 
Topeka, and Vienna. To illustrate what knowledge of the "game" 
could do, I sometimes asked for the data on sibling positions of 
the persons concerned and of their parents as well as on losses 
suffered, no more. I then proceeded to portray the persons, their 
principal conflicts, and the approximate course of their psychological 
treatment. These blind diagnoses were generally accurate in four 
out of five cases, and were often said to furnish better and tighter 
explanations of the problems involved than the respective psycho 
therapists or counsellors had reached, in spite of their infinitely 
greater familiarity with their cases. With additional information 
on special circumstances such as prolonged illness, financial dif 
ficulties, migration, drastic unusual events, constitutional pecu 
liarities and the like, or even merely on age gaps between siblings, 
spouses, parents and children, parents and their siblings, etc., the 
"fifth case" could always also be accounted for satisfactorily. 


A Boy in Psychological Treatment 

Fred, nine years old, was the younger brother of a sister seven 
years his senior. His father was the older brother of a sister three 
years his junior, his mother the older sister of a brother three 
years her junior. The father's parents were the oldest brother of 
a brother, a sister and another brother, and the oldest sister of 
a sister and a brother. The father's mother had lost her father in 
her late childhood. The mother's parents were the youngest brother 
after three girls and the oldest sister of altogether three girls. 
This could be expressed symbolically in the following manner 
(see Part V for explanation of these notations): 


father's parents father | mother mother's parents 

c i 



In this constellation, Fred, because of the great age differeisce 
from his sister, would be a mixture of a younger brother of a 
sister and an only child. He will eoq>eet his sister to take care 
of him while he is following his interests and talents with some 
abandon, but he will also ignore his sister altogether or treat 
her somewhat like a servant or inferior member of the family. 

From his parents he would inherit a conflict over authority. 
Both of them have been used to living with peers of the opposite 
sex, but either would like to be the master of the other, and 



neither would willingly submit to the other, if it could be helped. 
Both want to be seniors. 

This parental conflict is likely to affect Fred more than his 
sister. The sister finds a duplicate for her own sibling configura 
tion in that of her mother who also has been the older sister of 
a brother. So the daugther can readily identify with her. Her 
relationship to her father involves conflict, because the father has 
been used to a younger peer of the opposite sex in his own child 
hood, but the conflict would not be any worse than the one the 
father has with the mother. Fred's sister can identify with her 
mother even in her relationship to her father. 

Fred, on the other hand, does not find a duplicate of his 
sibling configuration in that of his father. He cannot easily identify 
with him, because the father was the older brother of a sister. 
The father would tend to boss and control a woman. He, Fred, 
would rather have her take care of his daily needs and submit to 
her wishes, as long as they do not interfere with his hobbies. To 
the extent that Fred does identify with his father, he will tend 
to maltreat his sister in odd ways, especially since the father 
would now be inclined to do so himself. Until the arrival of Fred, 
his daughter was just their (only) child. Now die has also become 
an older sister, exactly like his wife; both his wife and his daughter, 
he would feel, are contesting his authority. 

Fred would also sense that he can be for his mother and even 
his sister what the father cannot be: a bit of a little boy, someone 
who can let the woman run the show at times. As a matter of fact, 
he may take advantage of it and become the spoiled star of the 
family. The father would not like that and grow jealous of Fred, 
but he may also discover that he can treat his son somewhat like 
a girl, as, a good while ago, he treated his sister. He may begin 
to spoil Fred, although his wife would, at that point, accuse him 
of making a girl of his son. 

This is why Fred, more than his sister, would be at the mercy 
of the parents* conflicts. His sister has also been more involved 
in them, ever since Fred was born, but at least die has had seven 
years in which she was not t and that could have given her enough 
immunity to withstand present stresses. 


Fred's parents have a rank conflict, but no sex conflict, and 
neither of them has suffered early losses. Their match is not too 
bad. Such parents should find relief from their rank conflict with 
the arrival of children. Apparently Fred's parents did not, or they 
would not have waited so long (seven years) to try for a second 
child. Hence the conflict of the parents may be more severe than 
their own sibling configurations alone would suggest. A glance at 
the grandparents may clarify that. 

The father's father had been an oldest brother (of two brothers 
and a sister). So Fred's father has been strengthened in his posi 
tion of an oldest sibling and, through identification, may have 
assumed features of the oldest brother of brothers himself, of a 
person, that is, who likes to lead men and be more of a tough 
guy with women. The father's mother had been an oldest sister 
(of a sister and a brother). So even the father's parents must 
have had a rank conflict which may have been mitigated by the 
fact that the father's mother lost her father in her late childhood. 
Her mother became a widow and she a fatherless girl. Through 
identification with her mother as well as through her own expe 
rience, the father's mother must have assumed, to an extent, the 
attitude of a forsaken woman herself. Such a woman may be 
unable to indulge in her own wishes or defend herself well against 
frustrations and aggressions from others. If ever she would stand 
her ground, the same thing could happen she'd be left again. 
Thus the father's mother may have been meek, reticent, and 
submissive because of the loss she suffered, and the father's fatlier 
may have had broader and stricter control over bar tibaa wodd 
ordinarily have to be expected. In other words, Fred's father was 
tacitly prepared to show his woman by action who was bos, if 
slie would not believe him. 

Fred's mother had a father who must have been used to having 
women take care of him and at the same time have been some 
what overwhelmed by the opposite sex (three older sisters) and 
rdbetaat to marry. The mother's mother (oldest of three girb) 
may have bad to grab him almost by force, rather than attracting 
him by feminine charm, and she would tend to Ixjss him a lot* 
Thus these grandparents prepared Fred's mother to expect extrane 


submission from the man in the family and to be more bossy 
and less motherly than she would have been on the basis of her 
sibling configuration alone. 

For these reasons, the authority conflicts that Fred's parents 
had with each other may have been more severe than their sibling 
positions would suggest. Rather than catching on to the fact 
that children are the juniors they need, they stopped after one, 
at first, possibly because it was a girl. Mother had won, so to 
speak. When they had another child at last, mother's configura 
tion had been duplicated. Then their trouble became obvious. 

Fred's situation might be improved if some person, an aunt 
(say, father's sister), a greataunt, or a governess who has been 
the younger sister of a brother or perhaps even of a sister, were 
to participate in their family life. That way the father would have 
a junior female around and demonstrate a happier, though less 
important, relation to a woman than that to his wife and daughter. 
Fred could practice with that woman, too, and he could transfer 
skills so acquired to his mother and sister, and win his father's 
approval, although mother and sister themselves may not be too 
comfortable with the change. 

In the light of all this and knowing that this was a case of 
psychotherapy, Fred's problems should be those of confusion over 
his own sex, over the authority he can hope to exercise, and over 
his notions of married life. He may act like a very spoiled girl, 
but also rant like a wild man, be unmanageable at home and un 
successful with this behavior at school, hence possibly quite shy 
while there. 

Case history 

Fred had been brought to the guidance center because of his 
severe temper tantrums at home. He was said to have been quite 
moody and often listless, inconsiderate in the company of guests, 
and too fond of the maid of the house, an older woman who had 
also functioned as Fred's nurse and governess. Until not too long 
ago that woman would let him crawl into bed with her if he 

woke up at night and felt frightened in his own bedroom. His 
parents would not let him crawl into theirs. In school as well as 
among the neighbors he had no friends at alL He would not mingle, 
and he would get furious over attempts by his parents to bring 
children to the house or, as it happened, even to bribe them into 
playing with him. He would kick and abuse his sister Gloria, 
although much of the time he seemed to show a fair amount of 
affection for her* Acactemically he did quite wel in scbooL 

Fred's father was a rather successful real estate man who had 
taken the business over from his fatter, a self-made man who had 
built it all up himself. In the course of wtmseliiig with Frd*s 
father he described his wife as too stern, principled, and always 
speaking her mind. Once he called her a thoroughbred and won 
dered whether be sbould not baTe married a cow, or at least 
someone as placid and easygoing as his sister. She had married 
a physician, borne him two boys and a girl and was very happy, 
be claimed. With respect to his son, he had been at a loss. He 
did not know too well b0w to communicate with him, and be spent 
far too little lime with Fred, both he and his wife felt. He was not 
close to him. With Gloria this was different. She had always been 


very affectionate. Later he remarked, however, that he would just 
as soon have her leave the house, go to college anywhere in the 
country, and marry early. 

Fred's mother, an elegant, highstrung person, busy with various 
women's clubs, described her husband as the wrong man for her. 
She had not been sure she should marry him until the day she 
did. After Gloria had been born, their relationship was so bad that 
she was ready to leave her husband, but her father persuaded her 
to stick it out. Her father had always had a tremendous respect 
for women, and so did her brother. But her husband was aggres 
sive, inconsiderate, mean, and a hypochondriac, at least much of 
the time. She had felt closer to her husband's father while he 
was alive than to her husband. Her own father had never been 
firm enough with her mother. In her youth Fred's mother resolved 
that she never wanted to be like her. That woman was selfish, 
willful, unmotherly. She got her husband by proxy and through 
her letters. She can write beautiful letters, but she does not mean 
what she writes, Fred's mother claimed. To this day she is unable to 
do anything for her children or grandchildren except when every 
body watches her and can see it. As a businessman, Fred's maternal 
grandfather was reasonably successful at first, then made changes 
twice, and is now barely getting by. This has also upset his wife 
who had always wanted to be a society woman. According to 
Fred's mother, her father's business partners have all been stinkers. 
Businessmen don't have morals, though, she says, this does not 
hold for her father or her brother. They have never uttered as 
much as a white lie, in contrast to her husband. 

In the course of treatment, Fred slowly moved away from the 
role of a spoiled dbild to that of a boy who can and wishes to 
compete, can take moderate defeats and will risk making over- 
tores to others without elamining up as soon as things do not 
quite go as expected. He became more boyish in his interests 
as wefl as in physical appearance, began to show pride in his 
acii0veeiita and shame over incidents of cowardice, both of 
which he had been stamgly denying so far, f orod more pleasure 
with Ms parrots (who were giving him more time and changing 
in tfaeir own bdbavior), Ms sister's friends, and fais own 


classmates, and playmates of the neighborhood. He became rather 
outgoing, was mingling easily, accepting and extending invitations, 
participating in contests and games with increasing vigor. Treat 
ment was discontinued, when he seemed to have become stable in 
his new outlook on life, and his parents appeared to have found 
a more compromising balance with each other and their life 
situation, including their maid who, incidentally, had been the 
youngest of three girls in her own family. 


A Wife Returning to Her Parents 

Kathleen, a young mother, had left her husband after eight 
years of marriage and returned to her parents. She had been an 
only child of a father who was the youngest of altogether seven 
children, and of a mother who was the younger of two girls. Her 
father and his next older sister were the only children of his 
father's second marriage. His half-siblings of his father's first 
marriage were two brothers, then a sister, then a brother and a 
sister. Kathleen's husband had been the older of two boys and 
the son of a father who had been the oldest brother of two girls 
and a mother who had a younger sister and two still younger 
brothers. Her oldest brother had died soon after the mother had 
been born. 

Kathleen and her husband had two children, a girl and a boy, 
who were four and two at the time Kathleen left her husband. 
She took her children along. Their family constellation could be 
represented symbolically like this (see Part V for explanation of 

his father his mother husband f t her father her mother 




As an only child Kathleen would ordinarily tend to believe that 
sifae was the only person that mattered, that she could always count 



on the support of benevolent older people, and that she would not 
be particularly keen on having children, Her mother has been a 
younger sister of sisters. Therefore Kathleen will also show features 
of her mother's character. She would tend to be capricious, com 
petitive, and flirtatious, try to play men against each other at first, 
and perhaps wish to settle only for the most special of all. Under 
certain circumstances, though, a person like Kathleen could be 
scared into taking the one next at hand for a husband. 

Her parents are not too well matched. The mother must have 
had some trouble getting used to living with a man, and both 
father and mother would be much in need of guidance and leader 
ship which they have failed to afford each other. As a younger 
brother of a sister (the only true sibling he has) the father would 
expect the woman to take care of his every little need, to buffer 
Mm against hardships of the world, and to let him be the delightful, 
charming, careless clown or, perhaps, the gentleman living by his 
whims. His demands would be especially strong in view of the 
conflict that he and his sister must have been engaged in with 
tibeir half-siblings. They were outnumbered and, depending on 
the age gap separating the two sets of siblings, possibly at a 
disadvantage, even if their father tried to give every one of his 
children of his time, attention or property. What do those two 
latecomers want? They have everything, above aB, they have a 
mother, whereas we, the original ones, have lost ours. (This is 
assuming that the father remarried after his first wife had did.) 
In tlie light of all this, tibere must have bee a lot of overt con 
flict between Kathleen's parents, They may often have been on 
the verge of separating. 

Such trends would make Kathleen sotaewkat wary of marriage. 
What eotnplicates matters is the parents* tadbrcy to niafce ihdfer 
child into some sort of guide or leader as early in bar life as possible. 
Kathleen, on the other hand, could hardly learn from either parent 
bow to be tliat leader. Tfee parents* adfeiitare or aoelcleiit ol 
pramiiood (so that they might get mmeihmg Mfce a paiwt rsAer 
than a baby) failed. They had m> more children. Kathleen could 
have succeeded to some extent only in her late childhood or in 
adolescence, Le. , after having been exposed sufficiently to extra- 


familial guides, such as teachers, scout leaders or even figures of 
literature. Relatives, such as the father's sister or the mother's 
sister, or (preferably maternal) grandparents, if around, could 
also teach her something, but they are likely to be occupied too 
exclusively by Kathleen's parents. Kathleen, possibly, had been 
newly tempted to believe that she could get a true parent after all, 
but after failing to wrest these relatives from her parents or per 
suade them to stay she will be even more disappointed. Extrafa- 
milial idols would be less prone to let her down. Following them, she 
could become an authority in a field of knowledge or skill. How 
ever, long before Kathleen could fulfill her parents* wish for 
guidance to some small and peripheral degree, she must have 
sensed the parents* wish and somehow also her own inability to 
oblige. This could have made her feel unwanted and possibly 
guilt-ridden, especially since the father would be more Hkely to 
blame her mother for anything that went wrong than vice versa. 
Kathleen's own choice of a husband was not the best one 
either, although one may wonder whether there is a best one for 
a person coming from parents who have been in clear conflict with 
each other. If she would choose someone like her father, she would 
be familiar with the problems involved in marriage, but inherit 
those very problems. If she chose someone very different in terms 
of his family constellation, say, an oldest brother of sisters, die 
would have to be taught all anew how to breathe those engaging 
airs and often remain too scared to ever get used to them. 

As an older brother of a brother, Kathleen's husband would 
probably be tough with women and more in love with himself, 
other men, or work than with his wife. He may have married her 
for certain boyish qualities he recognized in her or for some re 
semblances die had to him. His tendency to boss or mastermind 
other people and to expect unconditional surrender for Ettle in 
Eetam (ie., to expect secret but maximal mothering) would be 
aggravated by the authority conflict that prevailed between his 
parents, Kathleen's husband codd have learned from his father 
IMW to be a ladies* man, and treat women in ways they Efee, if 
that man had been married to a younger sister of brothers. His 
mother, howOTer, would not let his father treat her Kke a woman 


in their own family. She herself had presided over a girl and two 
little boys, after she had gotten rid of her older brother quickly, 
If she suffered from any guilt over this, it would be accompanied 
and countered by a sense of her own power, and this second aspect 
would become dominant altogether once her little brothers had 
arrived. She may feel that through her mere presence she had 
given her father two sons that lived. 

Anyway, Kathleen's husband's mother would be inclined to 
treat her two sons like her younger brothers. Hence, Kathleen's 
husband would be a little like a younger brother of sisters through 
the treatment he has got from mother, something of an older 
brother of sisters through his identification with father, and a 
witness to a struggling and strife-torn marriage, possibly with 
father doing the giving in. Under those conditions he may have 
concentrated more heavily than other oldest brothers of brothers 
on his sibling and on relationships to junior men in order to avoid 
all the other apparent contradictions. Underneath the surface, he 
may have been a better match for Kathleen than a quick gknee 
would lead one to believe, but on the surface he was probably very 
hard on her, and she, in response to this, quite unable to play 
along, yield, or give a faint appearance of a motherly person. Her 
husband would get along poorly with her father, and better with 
her mother. She would get along all right with his father, but 
be quite ambivalent about his mother. Their children duplicate 
Kathleen's father's sibling position, and that may be an additional 
source of eontentioii among the parents. ITik duplication gave 
Kathleen's father a first opportunity to recognize himself and to 
be a little more of a fatter than lie had ever been with tiis own 
daughter, and gave Kathleen a chance 10 show him bow good a 
mother she eould be (and might have been eroa for him, her 
father, if he had only let her or had waited). Kathleen's husband, 
on the other hand, although getting a son, may have found it 
increasingly difficult as time went by to identify with his eon. fife 
was being spoiled, would not obey, would never become a man, 
would not accomplish what he hud outlined for him, and would 
s^eff grow up to be Ike his fafter-iii-lsw. 

Aggravations caused by the son probably brought the ailing 


marriage to the point of separation, but it is conceivable that the 
break could be mended. The separation may teach them that they 
had not fared too badly with each other after all. His father and 
her mother (who may have found themselves quite fond of each 
other) may persuade Kathleen to return to him. And Kathleen, 
who would be quite fond of her father-in-law and lean a lot on her 
own mother partly because as a child she must never have felt 
quite able to do so Kathleen might return to her husband. If he 
could get some help, psychologically or otherwise, he may discover 
features of the younger brother of a sister and the older brother 
of a sister in himself, and become kinder to his wife and more 
accepting of his son. Even his own daughter might teach him a 
little in that respect. 

Case history 

Kathleen had been a somewhat nervous child and a poor eater, 
but showed artistic talent early in her life. In school, however, 
this seemed to have become an asset only in her upper teens and 
at the Academy of Arts which she went to after high school. There 
she met and eventually married Frank, a teacher at the Academy 
and her senior by nine years. She had admired and adored three 
other teachers before two of them older women, the third a man 
some forty years older than she and tried to follow their leads, 
impress them by her work, and do them shy but sensitive favors,. 
One of the first things Frank did in their relationship was to break 
up her ties to all three of them, implying that he would not even 
consider seeing her otherwise. He also discouraged her in her 
artistic work to some extent, wished that she would, for a year or 
two, knock her fingers off as a typist, and accused her that she 
had always had it too good. But he appreciated her artistic taste 
and criticism. They married in a surprise move, emphasized the 
insignificance of the ceremony, and had their first child not uBtfl 
four years after they had been married. He often went out with 
the boys, schoolmates and veterans he had been in the war with. 
Bfe sometimes did ask her to come along, especially when a few 


others brought their wives, but she never went. First he got quite 
angry at that, but eventually resigned himself to it. He was of little, 
if any, help to her after the children had arrived, but Kathleen's 
mother and mother-in-law were only too willing to step in, the 
mother-in-law quite obviously with the intention of taking over 
the show. 

Kathleen's mother was still a pretty woman and a tireless 
worker, but very much under her husband's domination. He was 
fourteen years older than she, a heavy smoker and eater, bragging 
from time to time about certain women of top families whom he 
could have married instead of her. He had a good position in a 
large building firm, but wasted money and showed little foresight 
on family matters. Some hobbies of his, however, such as gardening 
and electronics, happened to come in quite handy in the difficult 
times during and after the war. Kathleen's mother kept the money 
and the household together, and provided even an apartment 
through the financial help of her father. She won a manifest hold 
on hex husband only after he had begun suffering from stomach 
ulcers. She could, from then on, control his eating and help him 
abstain from smoking, coffee, and liquor. He had shown little 
interest in his daughter until she won a prize in high school for 
the best painting in a large exhibition. 

Frank's father had died in a train crash a little before he and 
Kathleen got to know each other. Kathleen had never met him, 
bnt he was described to her by Frank as a quiet and thoughtful 
man, retiring in manner and speech, but warm and kind. Frank 
had felt more affectionate toward him than he had toward his 
mother. The latter was a very energetic and strong, but crude 
person whom Kathleen found utterly overwlielmiBg. His mother 
had taken a Job in a large bakery, after Ms father had died, and 
had soon advanced to a leading position in tibe firm. She had always 
been trying to boss bar sons (both whom, incidentally, bad 
to another city) and also her siblings. Her sister lived in 
country, but caine faithfully t titeir family retmon 
every Christmas, either with or without her husband. The older 
of feer two brothers held a position tibat lie owed to her, and the 
yoimgeir brother was practically living off her. 


Kathleen claimed that the relation with her husband got really 
intolerable when their second child arrived. Maybe one was already 
more than they could take, she expressed. Though they had 
gotten used to the daughter, they should not have had the boy. It 
really got to be too much for them. Frank would stay out nights, 
come home drunk, and be very hostile and abusive to her when he 
was at home. He resented particularly that Kathleen could not 
relate any better to his mother. And he refused to see her father. 
On rare occasions, he could still be quite nice and affectionate. His 
own brother usually succeeded in loosening him up, when he and 
his wife came for a visit. His brother's wife had also been 
helpful in this and other respects. She was an older sister of a 
brother. Colleagues and others considered Frank an outstanding 
artist and a goo-d teacher, but a difficult person to be with. 

Frank's sister-in-law and Frank's aunt (his father's youngest 
sister) were instrumental in bringing about Frank's and Kathleen's 
reunion after six months of separation. Until then he had had only 
occasional contacts with the children and a few telephone conver 
sations concerning them. Now their marriage is still far from 
happy, but somehow they seem to have struck a balance. At any 
rate, both children are thriving, getting along with each other, 
apparently unaffected by their parents* conflicts. 


A Criminal Prisoner 

Archie, 39 years old, a prisoner of seven months, was the 
younger brother of a sister six years his senior, and the son of a 
father who had had an older sister and an older brother, a younger 
sister and two younger brothers, and of a mother who had been 
the youngest sibling of an oldest boy and altogether three girls. 
The father had lost his mother in his late childhood, his older 
brother in his early childhood, and the older of his two younger 
brothers in his late childhood, not long before the mother died. 
The mother herself had lost her mother in her early childhood. 

Archie was married to a wife some four years his junior mid 
had had two children, both girls, five years apart in age. His wife 
was the youngest of three girls, the only child of her father's 
second marriage and a late-comer at that (twelve years younger 
than her next-older half-sister). The father's first wife had died. 
Archie's wife's father had been the third oldest of altogether seven 
children. He had had an older brother and an older sister, two 
younger brothers and, following then*, two younger sisters. Her 
mother had had an older brother and an older sister. This could! 
be expressed symbolically in the following way (see Part V for 
of notations): 

f hisfotfw f hisi*io*er f 

his father's Archie his mother's 

parents parents 

her father f her 

Archie's wife mother 




Archie would have grown up to be a girls* boy, expecting his 
sister and others to take care of his affairs, if his sister had not 
lived as an only child for six years. She could not have been too 
willing to look after him. At least she could not learn much about 
it from their mother. The mother is likely to have been a some 
what seductive woman, though also competitive as well as too 
dependent. The loss of her mother would have been buffered by 
her siblings. At that time she may have been the one whom her 
father, her brother, and one of her sisters wanted to relieve of, 
or even spare, the pains of mourning. But the other sister was 
probably quite jealous of her and made it difficult for her to enjoy 
these favors. On all those grounds, Archie's mother may not have 
been too ready to nurse her son and take care of his daily needs 
so that he could pursue wholeheartedly his hobbies and interests. 

This is aggravated by Archie's father. He not only lost his 
mother in his late childhood, something that may have made him 
tend toward depression and some steady, though seemingly in 
explicable, longing, but he also lost two brothers. The death of 
the older one during his early childhood must have created con 
fusion and guilt in him, and the death of the younger one (whom 
he must have experienced much more consciously as a rival) could 
have made things worse, in fact, intolerable, if he did not turn 
around altogether and take the death as proof of his own power. 
He disposed of his enemies, and reinstated, at last, a good balance 
of sexes in his family. However, punishment followed immediately. 
He now lost his mother. If he did not want to go out of his mind 
with grief, he must have concluded that somehow this was his 
doing too, that somehow he had triggered this loss or had even 
wanted it. She may have died because she loved the other two sons 
so much and hated hfm for wishing them out of his way. She may 
have died because she loved the father more than anybody else. 
Archie's father buried his abominable wish, firmly resolving 
neither to wish nor do more harm to anybody, man or woman. 

After his mothers death Archie's father may have seen his 


older sister turn more to his youngest brother and even play a 
so-so wife to his father, something he did not like, but would do 
nothing about from there on. In fact, he himself probably found 
some bitter consolation with his youngest sister. Later he married 
a person who may have been feminine, attractive, and capricious, 
though somewhat subdued, but definitely unable to give him, her 
husband, what his oldest sister used to bestow on him until the 
mother died. He had to bear even that lest he or fate run ram 
pant altogether. 

This describes the kind of father with whom Archie must have 
identified. Although Archie had not suffered any immediate losses 
himself, the father's losses and the father's reactions to them were 
passed on to him. These losses are also the most conspicuous and 
relatively unusual aspects of his family background. The mother's 
losses were smaller. 

Archie's sister must have found ha- father reticent, unrespon 
sive, even gruff. Thus she was probably forced to identify with 
him rather than relate to him, and that loo made it difficult for 
her to accept, and feel warmly toward, her brother. What Archie 
would have picked up about the marriage of his parents would 
be something Hke this: Father is too tough, He does not even 
talk. Mother is too soft and tender, He is poor company for her. 
She should have married someone else. Marriage is no happy affair. 

Archie's wife probably had been the pampered baby in her 
family, with features of an only child and some of those of a 
younger sister, this because of her identification with the mother 
and because of her own position. Ho* older half-sisters must hare 
resected her a lot. They had lost their mother, were cheated by their 
father, and perhaps triad to leave home as early as they could. 
Her mother would have been a feminine and submissive person, 
although also somewhat of a lease, if she could get away with it. 
The fad thai she married a widower (possibly considerably older 
than herself) may indicate that she had mot got away with much. 
After they married, her husband (who had not suffered any early 
losses in his life) would probably let her breathe freely. With his 
daughter he might have been a doting fool. Hence, Archie's wife 
would waul to follow her feelings and wishes as she pleased and 

show no inhibitions about men. She may have done so before 
the two were married and/or she may still be a big flirt with then- 
present male friends. 

Archie would not like that. He must have felt his father's rage 
in himself, believing unconsciously that he could hurt very badly 
and kill if he let loose. But like his father, Archie must also have 
kept feeling a strong force against doing harm to anybody, espe 
cially one's wife. His mother, who had also suffered a loss, was 
readier than his wife to subordinate herself to a man, anyway. 
Archie's wife confronted him with a much more difficult task in 
that respect. 

Since Archie has been in a penitentiary for the past seven 
months the only information about his crime that we have let 
us try to derive, on the basis of all previous considerations, what 
he may have done. Theft, robbery, embezzlement? No more likely 
than with any jailed person picked at random. Slander, tax eva 
sion, conspiracy against the government, etc.? Not too likely either. 
Assault, manslaughter, murder? More likely. Whom could he have 
assaulted? Probably a family member. It was in the family where 
Archie's father had been successful with losses as well as deadly 
frightened because of this success. People other than family mem 
bers must have been less of a temptation to his father. If there 
was a conflict, he could simply avoid these outsiders. By psy 
chological inheritance this would hold for Archie too. So who 
might have been the victim of Archie's assault? His father? No. 
He was too stern, powerful and at the same time reticent, to be 
anything but awesome. His mother? No. She was too submissive, 
too subdued, and sweet. She did not challenge father or anybody 
very much. Archie's sister? A more likely target. She was an 
older sister, and it was with his own older sister that Archie's 
father may have had a real gripe. He may also have made clear 
to his daughter in no uncertain ways that die should take good 
care of Archie, a matter in which she was not likely to oblige. 
If Archie's father ever showed rage and fury, no matter how 
pickijF he stopped himself, it was probably with his daughter. 

in tur mudd be tempted to retaliate, at feast in her thoughts. 

Bat Aidrie tad left the home, was married, and had his own 


family. Those in the family are more likely to have challenged 
him into a real attack. His wife? She could have. She might have 
aroused his jealousy. On the other hand, he may have known what 
he was getting into with her ever since he started dating her. 
And she was a youngest sibling, the pampered one, the cutie. How 
could he lay hands on her, either then or now? Did his father ever 
raise as little as his voice against Archie's mother? Probably not 

His older daughter perhaps? Well, assuming average circum 
stances to prevail, she may be about fourteen years now, and her 
little sister nine. At the time when Archie committed his offense, 
she may have been a little over thirteen, an age at which girls 
can make a bit of a nuisance of themselves to their parents. They 
get more seriously interested in possible dates, clothes, movies, 
cars and the like, but above all in boys. If she has Dot been 
interested or fond of her little sister, this would become very 
obvious now. If her father, Archie, had been an oldest brother, he 
might have forced her into an obedient affection for her sister, 
but Archie was not. He probably began to hate her, just as his 
father could have hated his own older sister and his own daughter, 
Archie's older sister. Archie, the same way, must Iiave hated his 
older sister, but the only older sister whose antagonism and selfish 
ness he could combat at the time of the crime was his own daughter. 
As a matter of fact, as her father he had every ri^bt to hate these 
traits of hers. If Archie did commit assault or murder, she is the 
most pinobable candidate. 

Could his younger daughter have been the victim? Not Efcety. 
For one thing, her mother, Archie's wife, can easily identify ifitfc 
her, and also serve her wel as an object of identification, Tiie 
oMer daughter cannot identify with her mother. The only female 
in the family with whom she could readily identify wwld be 
Ardhie's sister. But Archie's wife is prone to be in conflict with 
tfiat wmas, too, and would dislike her daughter for such na- 
foitikfolness even mote. By contrast, the little one woiiW !>e eraa 
more of a ckrfeg to both parents*. 

In mnam&rj, tfeen, we could say tibat Arete has tafcoi 
from bis father a severe and unresolved conflict about die 
ment 0f people, in particular dose females. Upon mA&e&A 


cation he may break out from the old stalemate between devastating 
attack and extreme guilt over the consequences. He could do some 
thing that he would be sorry for ever after. Concretely, he could 
have assaulted and murdered his older daughter or possibly, though 
less likely, his wife. 

Case history 

Archie was a clerk with an adequate salary, a car, and a little 
house in the countryside from where he commuted to work, 
before he was committed to the penitentiary. He had been known 
by friends and colleagues as an industrious and conscientious, 
but obstinate, person with a bitter humor. He looked happily mar 
ried, to them, although his wife revealed later that their marriage 
was far from happy. Their characters did not agree at all. Re 
cently, i.e., a few months before he committed the offense, their 
relationship had improved a little. 

They had met toward the end of World War II when men 
were scarce and he had had a medical discharge from the army. 
His knee had been battered by a shell; and his leg had remained 
stiff. She had been engaged twice and dated several men before, 
but somehow they had all seemed to lose interest after a while. 
She had not been particularly attracted to Archie, but he seemed 
the only one left, she felt. Besides, he was a member of the gang 
from which most of her dates and both fiancees had come from. 
They all had gone to the same school, lived in the same general 
neighborhood, and were still in contact with each other. In fact, 
if some of those friends and her own parents had not comforted 
and consoled her off and on, she would have divorced Archie 
long ago. Archie, she claimed, had the same tough and poten 
tially vicious mind as Jeanne, his sister, That girl had not married 
to this day because she was smarter than any man she met. Now 
she is going to be an old maid. Perhaps Archie was not quite as 
vicious a she. He had beaten heir occasionally during the early 
part of their marriage, mostly because of his suspicions of other 
men, but he had never really hurt her, and in a way she had not 



even minded his very firm hand with her and in family matters 
in general. But emotionally she had felt gypped all along. 

Archie had adopted a kind of humorous attitude toward his 
wife, one that was not even sarcastic: "She wants fun, and to 
be the center of the boys' attention. She loves to drink and spend 
money once in a while. She has actually been a good wife, on 
the whole, not really extravagant, and faithful to me ever since 
our marriage, but needs to be watched and kept in check.** The 
only thing that had originally irked Archie was that some of his 
friends had possessed his wife before their marriage, and although 
the one most beloved to her had been killed in the war, there 
was another one of whom she was still uncomfortably fond. She 
had been a good mother to their children, although a little hard 
on Liz, the older one. Liz had always struck them as a vary intel 
ligent girl who matured rapidly both mentally and physically. 
The little one was more of an average child, neither as beautiful 
nor as smart as Liz, but very cute and cuddly. 

Archie's offense was a violent assault on Liz when she had 
disregarded his orders, been out with boys, and eome home three 


hours later than promised. He had hit her with an iron bar and 
hroken her spine, so that she had heen paralyzed in her legs. But 
she was improving and had hegun to walk again, He had not 
meant to hit her that hard. He was very sorry. He did not helieve 
now that his daughter had really betrayed his good faith in her, 
but he was outraged at the tune, especially since she had expressed 
so many fancies and illusions all along. She had plans to become 
a movie star, a model, marry a count, get a Jaguar. His sentence 
was two years, but he hoped to be out before that. He lost his 
job. Well, he could find another one. And there was the hard 
ware store which his father would leave him as soon as he got 
out of jail. The father wanted to retire anyway. He had been very 
nice about the whole thing. It almost seemed as if he, the father, 
had had the bad conscience. Archie actually did not know what 
had overcome him at the time. He had been intent on slapping 
Liz, he remembered, but then this iron bar had been there, and 
the next thing he knew was Liz lying on the floor, unable to get 
up. Even so he deserved the sentence. In court Liz had claimed 
that he had threatened several times to kill her if she would not 
obey him to the letter. He may have said it, but he could never 
truly have meant it, 

Liz appeared relatively unaffected, at least now that her gait 
was almost back to normal. Even her little sister's expressed 
hatred for her because she had brought their father to jail did 
not seem to make much of an impression on her. She would not 
be afraid to live in the house after the father had returned home. 
She knew that he had not wanted to hit her as hard as he had, and 
he would not dare to raise a hand against her now. Maybe she 
had overdone it with her spite of her father. But she had no 
reason to change now, to forego any fun that was coming to her. 
If she did not have enough sense to know where to stop, it was 
too bad for father. But she thought she did. 


A Menial Patient 

Sheila is a 27 year old girl who has been in mental hospitals 
for the past ten years. She has a sister, one year older than herself, 
who is now married and has two children, a girl and a boy. Her 
father, now sixty-five years old, has had an older brother and two 
older sisters five, three, and two years his senior. He has afoo 
had two younger siblings, a girl eleven years, and a boy thirteen 
years his junior. His father was separated from the rest of the 
family while he himself grew from five to ten years of age. The 
old man had emigrated to the United States, and it took him 
five years until he was able to pay the fare for the rest of the 
family. Less than three years after they had all arrived he died. 
Sheik's mother had an older brother, a younger sister, and a still 
younger brother. They all married before she did, and aD of than 
had children. Her parents had lived until three and two years ago. 
She herself had died of cancer about four years ago at tbe age 
of 58. About two years later Sheila's father remarried a widow 
who had been the oldest sister of two younger brothers and a stii 
younger sister, and who had two grown sons from her first marriage 
who were BO longer living with her. Symbolically, Sheila's family 
constellation would look Hke this (see Part V for explanation of 

father f tnolber 

fathers parents Sheita 




Sheila's- father had been witness to a separation of his parents. 
By age, he would have been the one most vulnerable to the loss 
of his father, but it was buffered for him by his older siblings and 
his mother's presumable conviction that they would be reunited 
in the not too distant future. By the time the reunion occurred, 
however, he must have pretty much forgotten life with father! 
He had hardly got used to him again when his father had given 
his mother another two children, and then died himself. Hence 
the alder children had to look after the family or at least after 
themselves. The oldest brother, the most logical successor to the 
father, must have been about eighteen by that time and capable 
of earning a living, but probably also interested in getting married. 
His parents' temporary separation had hit him when he was already 
ten years old. He had been witness to adequate and plausible 
relationships between his parents throughout his formative years. 
Sheila's father, on the other hand, learned early that a marriage 
can break up. So why marry? Why reach out for too much, if 
you can have everything you want right here at home? At any 
rate, he is the more likely of the two brothers to stick it out at 
home, even if the burden of providing should creep up on Turn 
in the process. The two older girls would also have felt caHed 
upon to chip in, but with a temporary loss of the father in their 
early lives, with the final loss in their adolescence, they may have 
tried to find a safer haven than their own family with almost any 
man who would come along. There may also have been a feeling 
among the three older siblings something like: "We have taken 
care of you (Sheik's father) long enough. Why don't you take 
over now?" 

It is likely that Sheik's father was the one who ended up as 
the head of household soon after his father's death. He got flie 
mother at last, and he had two little children of hers to take 
care of. Such a course of events is also indicated by the late date 
of arrival of his own children, which probably also meant a late 
marriage. He was 37 when his first daughter was bom, and Ms 


wife 34, which is rather late for a woman, too. His wife came from 
a family with no apparent complications (no losses of parents or 
siblings; her parents presumably matched well enough to let all 
of her siblings get married withqut too much difficulty and make 
a go of it, as evidenced by their having children) so she must 
have been either not very attractive to other men or not too 
anxious for inner reasons to get married. One thing sometimes 
goes with the other. She might have felt too sensitive, shy, and 
ambivalent about people in general and about men in particular. 
Considering the lack of evidence of any losses suffered or severe 
conflicts prevailing in her original family, this facet of her char 
acter could be hereditary. She may have been one of those people 
who find life difficult or even unbearable, without being the victims 
of any trauma to speak of. 

If that were so, however, she would be more accepting of a 
man who is somewhat older, has taken care of a family and little 
children before, and also has had the comforts of his own mother 
all along. Sheila's mother would probably sense the father's im- 
oonscious dependence on the support of a motherly person, but 
also that somehow he must have managed to get the support, and 
would not depend for it too heavily on her. If^he got it, she 
would too, may have been her implicit (and probably mistaken) 
reasoning. Even so, they did not really make a poor choice with 
each other. Both duplicate for their spouse at least one of the 
sibling positions they have held in their original families, and they 
have come from relatively similar configurations anyway. 

If Sheila's mother had indeed been a vulnerable person, she 
would be likely to create trouble for her first daughter rather than 
her second. However, the first one is married and has children, 
whereas the second one started having very manifest troubles at 
seventeen or probably sooner. Which means that Sheila, in addition 
ta having had a somewhat dependent father and a nervous mother, 
may hare been affected hereditarily, and was thus ill equipped to 
epe especially with her sister. The struggle among the siblings 
must have been quite inarticulate and confusing to hear i>eeause of 
the small age gap, possibly aggravated by the father's ambivalence 
his own much younger siblmgs, his cfaildrm, and die sex 


of his second child. And if she resolved her problems for the time 
being, she would have done so chiefly by denying that there was 
a struggle. She may have got all she wanted while acting like a 
capricious and whiny baby, or she may have been an exceptionally 
quiet and good child instead. 

It would not be too surprising if there had been some case of 
mental illness among her ancestors. 

Case history 

Sheila had been a very pretty and angelic child who gave her 
parents no trouble whatsoever. However, at twelve, shortly after 
she had started menstruating, she was sent to a summer camp, 
and became intolerable to the camp within a few days. A month 
later she was committed to a mental hospital and sent home after 
six months. She was then put in a private boarding school from 
which she had to be recommitted to mental hospitals several 
times. For the past ten years she has never been out of mental 
hospitals, except for weekends or a few days in a row. 

Her father had married so late because the burden of caring 
for the two late-comers in his family after immigration to the 
United States had rested with him. His older siblings had moved 
out of the house almost as soon as their father had died. He had 
resented their doing this ever since. He would not talk to them 
if he met them, he said, but had lost touch with all of them anyway. 
One died a few years ago. Both his younger siblings were un 
happily married, the childless brother for the second time. His 
sister worked very hard to support her ailing and drinking husband 
and two boys^ one of whom had lost a leg in an accident. 

Sheik's mother had been a beautiful woman, but quite shy 
and a little nervous, the husband explained. She worried a lot, 
and when Sheik got ill, she thought day and night about her. She 
felt it had been her fault. She had had one miscarriage before 
having the two girls. Ste was quite tipset abont that and reeewedi 
psychotherapy in order to get over the shock, Later she had begira 
la be excessively concerned abotit ker and other people's health, 


and had actually been ailing for a few years before her death. 
Her older brother had been in a mental hospital for two years 
with a psychotic depression. 

The father's new wife was a big motherly person who liked to 
live and eat well, but also knew how to take care of him and his 
health in ways he found very comfortable. He even said: "I have 
never had it so good." Eventually she persuaded him to retire. 
They had enough money, and they were going to take regular long 
vacations in the South. And he insisted that his older daughter 
could take care of Sheila while they were away. She could visit 
Sheila in the hospital or take her home for weekends, just as they 
themselves used to do throughout the year. According to the step 
mother, Sheila's visits at home had been quite strenuoiis on 
Sheila's father. But the stepmother could apparently take good 
care of the patient, too. Sheila had been very hostile when she met 
her for the first time after they were married, but had since taken 
to her relatively well. The stepmother's own sons were both married 
and visited them occasionally. Sheila's father did not particularly 
care for those visits either, but seemed to be much less upset than 
when Sheila visited. 


A Young Man Bereaved by Many Losses 

Carl, a young man of twenty-four who works in a factory, is the 
youngest of three children. His mother had brought an illegitimate 
girl into her marriage. The second girl, however, was his true sister. 
His mother had had an older brother, an older sister, and two 
younger brothers, both of whom perished in a fire when she was 
about eight or nine years old. Her mother died of tuberculosis 
when she was thirteen. Carl's father had been an orphan since 
birth, and had grown up in an orphanage until he was adopted by a 
cousin of his mother and her husband, at about the time he 
started school. Carl's mother and her father died in a car accident 
while his mother was driving. Carl was four years old at the time. 
His father put the older girl in an orphan's home, the younger 
with a family, and Carl with the same relatives who had brought 
him up. The father then took up with a woman who drank, began 
to drink himself, and lost contact with all of his children. Carl's 
foster-grandmother had been the oldest sister of four other girls 
and her husband the youngest and only son after three girls. They 
had no children of their own. This could also be expressed sym 
bolically in the following manner (see Part V for explanation of 

fff foster-father f foster-mother 

lather Carl mother Carl 




This is an overwhelming history of losses. Carl would be a 
ladies' boy, a person to whom the girls flock, and who would 
expect them to cater to him and look after his daily needs. He 
would merely follow his inclinations, interests, and talents. But 
these attitudes got badly shaken, when he lost not only his mother 
but, psychologically speaking, also his two sisters and father. 

Even before that he must have sensed the losses that mother 
and father had suffered. His mother must have felt quite guilty 
over the loss of her younger brothers, or at least over the loss of 
one of them. If she loved the other one (presumably the younger) 
dearly, she may have thought of his loss as the punishment she 
deserved. The loss of her mother would have been an additional 
blow, possibly construed by her as the true retaliation for some 
bad wishes she had had for her younger brothers. Probably it did 
not help much to have had that trauma buffered by her older 

How do we know? For one thing, she went on punishing her 
self. She got herself an illegitimate child, which means that the 
man from whom she had it did not really want her. And she had 
probably known all along that this was what she should expect 
of him. Then she got herself an orphan for a husband, a person 
who had not been wanted by either his father or his mother. 
True, he had foster parents, but he started having them quite late 
wiiea he was about six years old. Furtberaaore his foster parents 
had been childless themselves. It is Efcely ffcal km foster mother, 
as an oldest sister of sisters, bossed and controlled his foster 
Who-, and if they could not have dblHrai erf {heir OWB wen 
tiiough they wanted them (why else wodki they faaro adopted 
Carl's fatter and been willing to take Cari too), it was probably 
considered his faufe. His foster father, on the other band, must 
have been somewhat wary of the other sex. He had had too modi 
exposure to it in his original family. If anything, lie wanted 10 be 
left afoue by woroeB or maybe discreetly rained for by 
not really bothered or involved in their chitchat. 


In attempting to identify with his foster father, Carl's father 
would assume those features himself. He also would not learn 
about marriage as a happy experience. His foster mother must 
have appeared too uninviting, too unfeminine in her character 
even to him. Yet, had the foster parents been perfectly matched 
with each other, he would still have the drawn out shock of his 
experience in the orphanage, and hardly be able to trust the 
happiness of his present family life. 

For all those reasons, Carl's father is likely to have been an 
unstable, insecure person, looking for some mysterious, inexhaust 
ible supply of favors, gratifications, and affection that he had 
never quite had in his early life. Hence his marriage to a girl who 
had slipped and was already a mother; she could take him on not 
only as a husband but also as a child. Hence, further, the complete 
breakup of the home after his wife's death and his recourse to a 
drunkard girl and drinking. 

Fate hit Carl (and his father and his mother) so hard that, 
even with a strong psychological constitution, Carl must have be 
come a disturbed person, tending, already under minor stresses, 
to revert to early and primitive forms of interpersonal relationships 
and gratifications. He is in danger of taking to drinking, of de 
pressive psychotic episodes, of at least mild schizophrenic reac 
tions, or of developing a rather schizoid character. He would have 
trouble marrying or even venturing any serious steps in that 
direction. Relatively his best stronghold may be work, provided 
he had sufficient talents and they were recognized and fostered 
early enough. He may cling to work vehemently in order not to 
have to long hopelessly for an all-powerful unconditional provider, 
nor to get entangled with girk and become dependent upon them 
What could they possibly do but let him down. 

Case history 

Carl had been a potentially brilliant student in school, but he 
tended forever to flop in the final phases of his studies. Even so 
he graduated from high school at seventeen, from college cum 


laude at twenty, only to start working in a rather inferior and 
futureless position of laboratory assistant in the research center of 
a large chemical firm- He was described by colleagues as quiet and 
withdrawn, reliable in his work, but slow, fussy, odd, and distrust 
ful in his social contacts. 

His foster mother had consulted with a psychiatric agency m 
worry about Carl's seclusion in an awful little apartment of his 
own, although he could have continued to live in their comfortable 
house. When she had fried to have him back home after he grad 
uated from college, he had called bar a monster, the only time 
she had ever heard him use a curse word. But he still felt that way 
about her, she claimed. Yet she had thought that she had dbne 
everything she could for him. Her husband had been against adopk- 
ing a child, but she had gone ahead anyway and won btnr OT^ 
with adopting Carl's father. When it came to adopting Cari lier 
husband's consent was much less of a problem. 

Now Carl came to visit them about once a month, but he chieiy 
visited her husband, she explained. Carl hardly talked to her, but 
he did talk to him, and when he left, her husband would usually 
see him to the station. Carl's foster mother implied that her hus 
band had never been too much of a man, that he did not have a 
will of his own, and that Carl had taken after him a lot, although 
not altogether. For how could he, otherwise, have taken such a 
stubborn stand on the job he chose no position for a boy with 
his brains and on his move to the apartment, He could Kve 
much more cheaply and comfortably with them. 

Upon inquiry, Carl's foster mother revealed that Cari had had 
very littk contact with giris. He had always been a retfcaat and 
shy boy who almost loathed affection. Only once did te seem m 
love, with a student when he was in college. But die probably did 
not even know he existed, let alone how he felt about her. The 
foster mother learned about it from a letter that lie tad meant 
to write to the girl, but had torn up. (She had piaoed it together.) 
Earlier, in his last year of iugfa school, be mmi have had a crash 
OB a girl although nobody found out who die was. Even m the 
naoatal liospital wfaeme iie spent sk waets for dbeorvmtloti that 
summer, after graduation, he would not lei anything about the 


girl. He had developed a peculiar kind of spell. He hardly slept, 
and did just about nothing but brood. They were quite concerned 
and eventually took him to the hospital. He recovered after a while. 
The whole experience had never been mentioned since. 

He had no boyfriend either, his foster mother said. He had 
never been on very good terms with any of his classmates, but 
now he had literally nobody. He could have shared an apartment 
with somebody, but he refused to. The only person with whom 
he did have occasional contact was a crazy painter, a man some 
ten years older than he who ran around in corduroy suits and 
sneakers, and lived with a very young and utterly gone girl who 
wrote poems. One poem a year. 

"Oh, he has occasionally asked for his sisters. He sort of 
cherished the older of the two, his half-sister, but she was no good. 
Eventually she went West and became a show girl at some crummy 
place. She is lost. She does not even have an address. His other 
sister is all right, but we never cared much for the family she lived 
with. She became a salesgirl. She is married now and has a 
little boy." 

The agency advised CarFs foster mother that he would need 
psychiatric help, but warned her that it might be difficult to per 
suade him to seek it. Her husband could perhaps talk to him about 
it at an opportune moment. However, nothing was heard from her 
or Carl thereafter. 


A Young Architect 

Otto, a man of twenty-serai, had a sister two years his senior 
and a brother three years his junior. Otto had graduated from an 
engineering school in his home city where he had studied architec 
ture, and enteaned a well known architect's firm as an assistant. His 
father had been the youngest brother of an older sister, of an older 
half-brother whom his mother had brought into her marriage as 
an illegitimate child, and of an older half-sister whom his father 
had brought into the marriage from a premarital relationship of 
his own. Otto's mother had been the oldest sister of two brothers. 
Two of Otto's grandparents were still living, the other two had 
died only in the last few years. This could be stated symbolically 
by the following expression (see Part V for explanation of no 
tations ) : 

fattier f mother 


The particular question asked in this context was how Otto 
would fare at his fob and what kind of gH he might go out nitfa 
awl eventually many. 


Otto worfd show features of a younger brother of a sister, ie, 
to attract girls wiling to mother him m& fooie after 



him, and he would have been comfortable in this role, had it not 
been for his younger brother. His arrival jeopardized Otto's posi 
tion. He must have seen his sister cater to his younger brother 
with more abandon and grace than he could remember her showing 
him. He would be jealous of her and the brother. His sister should 
not spend so much time with this young brother, and he in turn 
should not only look up to his sister and dote on her, but also 
should try harder to make a play for him, Otto. At least he should 
emulate him. After all, he was his older brother. He should obey 
him. But that fellow did not. Otto would be somewhat torn between 
his two roles, not quite at ease in either, and hence a bit of a 
problem even in his extrafamilial social contacts. Not a serious 
problem, though. 

In his relationship with his father he has another complication. 
His father had been the youngest brother of a brother and two 
sisters, i.e., the youngest of four, and the youngest of the two in 
the family that were born in wedlock and were probably the 
privileged. In either respect, Otto could not identify with his father 
as easily as could his younger brother. His father, in turn, would 
recognize his own position in his youngest son and shortchange 
Otto a trifle. What is more, he would not be too fatherly a father 
in the first place, leaving the tasks of parenthood more or less to 
his wife, an older sister used to taking care of younger men. 

In his relationship to his mother, Otto should find more com 
fort. The first of her younger brothers is likely to have put up a 
similar fight as Otto did for his older sister and for, as well as 
against, his younger brother. But she understood what this first 
brother was up against something similar to what she had been 
up against when he arrived. She could take her second brother in 
stride and probably help her first brother to get used to him too. 
She must have been even better prepared to sympathize with Ott 
and help him get accustomed to his younger brother than she had 
been with her own brothers. 

At any rate, Otto would probably be quite fond of his mother, 
and his family background as a whole, though, burdened with 
some conflicts* cannot have been a truly unhappy one. He may 
have been, and may continue to be, somewhat of a troublemaker 


for his family as well as for his friends, acquaintances, teachers or 
employers, but the troubles would not be too serious and could 
usually be mended without much effort. He would tend to be 
quite whimsical and dictatorial at times, but also competitive 
whenever challenged. When the latter is the case, his superiors 
could easily call him to order about his whims, whereas at other 
times they may have more of a problem. 

With girls he may also put up fights of sorts. He would tend to 
find himself an older sister of brothers. She would know how to 
take him. But because of his younger brother he may also have 
a strong wish, at times at least, to get away from older sisters and 
go on a binge, say, with a youngest sister of sisters. Unconsciously, 
he would want something super-feminine, a willful and capricious 
person, a star perhaps, but he would soon lose his patience and 
return to older sisters again, even to his own sister. Ultimately 
he would be best matched with an older sister of two brothers. 
Full duplication of a person's sibling configuration is, relatively, 
die most likely to succeed in family backgrounds like Otto's where 
the parents have been happily matched, and no losses have been 
suffered either by them or by the person in question. If he married 
such an oldest sister of two brothers, he may even permit the 
younger of her two brothers to live with them or be around the 
house a lot. As a matter of fact, they may become good friends. 
He may be able to tolerate him much better than his own brother, 
and develop the feelings of friendship and affection that be ccmld 
never wholeheartedly indulge in with his brother. 

It is worth considering briefly what Ms sister and Iiis younger 
brother might do with their work situations waA friends *rf tte 
opposite sex. This eocikl accentuate Otto's potted further- 

His sister will show the features of an oldest sister of brothers 
in a rather pure form. Not only does she have two younger brodreans 
to tale charge of, she also has a mother wfco was precisely in that 
position herself. She should have TO trouble identifying with ler 
wherever her own experience and ingenuity does not suffice. And 
alie lias a father who had been the younger brother of a sister (or, 
if yoti like, the youngest brother of two sisters ami a brother), 

> weft-matched with his wife, and was inviting her, his daughter, 


to cater to him and take care of his various earthly needs. How 
ever, she would also be the one to sense whatever trouble there 
might have been between the parents more clearly than either of 
her brothers. There was no immediate trouble, but her father's fa 
ther and mother had apparently had some difficulties. They had had 
illegitimate children. That meant that at one time the father's 
mother had been a bad woman, and that the father must have 
realized that somehow. What is more, the father's father also 
brought an illegitimate child into the marriage. Why did that child, 
the father's half-sister, not stay with her mother? That's where 
illegitimate children are more likely to end up. Who forced him 
to keep his child? What woman could pull that one over on him? 
Was he a weak man? Or was it just that he could not abandon a 
little girl? Anyway, would his only legitimate son, Otto's father, 
not sense all that and be somewhat ashamed of it? 

Otto's sister must have concluded that, if everything was fine 
in her parents' marriage, it certainly was not with her paternal 
grandparents, at least when they started out with their marriage. 
Even to this day that half-uncle and half-aunt are the dark side of 
the family with which one had better avoid contact. "Love relation 
ships have their dangers," Otto's sister must have felt, "and my 
father knows it. Even though he won't tell me, I know it, in fact, 
|TT>in him. 

Otto's sister may find it just a little bit harder than other 
oldest sisters of brothers would to settle down for a marriage of her 
own. She is an ever so slight candidate for slipping, possibly pick 
ing up a man who has slipped, or perhaps entering a relationship 
in winch the man is slipping. That is, he may be married to another 
woman and not really willing to divorce his wife. Hence Otto's 
sister may also stay more attached to her work than other girls, 
preferably as a chief secretary for several men, as a social worker 
or nurse, as a teacher or physician. 

Otto's younger brother, on the other hand, has not only less 
coniict about his role as the youngest brother of a sister he *5 
the youngest, can let his mother and his sister give him all kinds 
of treats, and can identify fully with his father but he is also the 
one best protected against the only problem we know of in the 


parents' marriage. This younger brother is less likely than Otto to 
be puzzled by what his sister has picked up about their father. The 
younger brother can follow the call of his talents with greater 
abandon and less conflict. He can really choose what he would like 
to do, whereas Otto, the frustrated leader of (younger) men, is 
prone to have been influenced also by some wishes for power, 
grandeur or becoming a genius at all costs. 

Case history 

Otto nearly flunked a course necessary for his graduation as 
an architect, because he insisted on his version of a special archi 
tectural assignment. His colleagues had advised him against it 
He also fell into disfavor with another professor for calling him at 
odd times about trifles. And once, in a clumsy maneuver at a de 
partment party, he poured wine over that same professor's pants. 
Similar things were said to have happened in high school. 

At work he was considered very competent and gifted, but 
willful and somewhat unpredictable. He would have no trouble 
holding his own, but sometimes he made himself a pain in the 
neck for the others. In one of their firm's projects he behaved 
very stubbornly, attempting to push a poor point through. But 
good men have their moods, was the boss* conclusion. 

While studying architecture, Otto had dated a girl and been 
as good as engaged to he3% but when celebrating his graduation, 


they had gone to a nightclub, and he had hopelessly fallen in love 
with a strip teaser. He persuaded that girl to quit the night club, 
paid for her private acting lessons after he had urged her to 
try for admission to the city's drama school and she had failed 
and lavished every penny on her. A year later she had become the 
mistress of a banker's son and returned to night club life. Otto 
had a hard time getting over it. Eventually there was a rapproche 
ment with his fiancee (an only child and daughter of a mother 
who had been the older sister of a brother), helped along by Otto's 
mother and sister. At that time he was quite instrumental in win 
ning his firm a sizeable contract. His fee enabled them to marry and 
set up their own household. There were no children yet (three 
years later). 

The night club girl, incidentally, had been the sixth and 
youngest child of her father's first marriage, and had left the 
father's farm in a village some hundred miles south to try her 
luck in the big city. Her mother had died when she was three 
years old. Her father had remarried and had four more children. 

Otto's sister, head social worker in a general hospital, was 
engaged to a man eight years older than she who had lived 
separated from his wife and was waiting for his divorce. He had 
no children. Before meeting him, Otto's sister had been going with 
two men in a row, one her age, a younger brother of a sister, and 
another some three years her junior, a singleton. The two men were 
physicians. Her present fiance was a lawyer in public service. 

Otto's brother, a biologist, was getting ready to marry the oldest 
sister of altogether two sisters and a brother. She came from a 
fairly well-to-do family in the food business. He was working in 
an ornithological research station and hoped one day to do 
independent research. 


Some Theoretical Considerations 

Those among the readers who like more formal reasoning to 
go along with the game may find the following considerations 
useful and suggestive. It should be said, though, that they contain 
nothing that has not been said or implied elsewhere in this book. 
Hence it can be skipped by readers who dislike symbolic designa 
tions and mathematical formulas. 

The number of possible types of "homosexual" and "hetero 
sexual" matches is legion, even if only rank and sex of the part- 
. ners' siblings and of their parents' siblings are varied (see page 
6). Therefore any comprehensive list or matrix (permitting under 
standing of a particular match by classifying it putting it in the 
appropriate box) would be unmanageably large, at least without 
data processing machines. Since the vast majority of players in 
the game of family constellation is without such a machine, two 
avenues are suggested that seem practical. One is a kind of algebra 
with which family constellations can be written and handled more 
easily than in words. The other is a set of mathematical formulas 
with which the conflicts inherent in a given match can be ex 


Algebra of Family Constellation 

Let us call the older brother of a girl b(g), the younger brother 
of a boy (b)b ? the middle sister of an older brother and a younger 
sister (b)g(g). Let us symbolize a lasting interpersonal relation 
ship, such as a marriage, by a slash. Example 1: (g)b/(g)g(b), 
which means that the younger brother of a sister has married the 
middle sister of an older sister and a younger brother. Exampk 2: 
bfg,g)/(g,g)g(g), which means that the older brother of two 
girls is married to the second-youngest of altogether four girls, 
Example 3: (b,g)b(g)/(b)g(b,g), which means that the husband 
has had an older brother, an older sister, and a younger sister, 
while the wife has had an older brother, a younger brother, and a 
younger sister. 

In example 1 the marriage duplicates completely for the hus 
band what he had at home, whereas it does so only in part for the 
wife. She would tend to have a partial sex and rank coiiffiet In 
example 2 the husband gets almost what he had at home. Only 
polygamy, i.e., two wives, could improve his lot The wife, on the 
other hand, would have a full sex conflict and a smal rank eniiet. 
Example 3 represents an optimal match, although, a more compta 
one than its simplest paradigms: b(g)/(b}g and (g)b/g(b). 

An algebraic test of fit of a heterosexual match can be made 
on the basis of the assumption that eompfefce complementarity of 
sex and rank between the spouses would be ideal. Therefore* con 
version of al sexes and all ranks in one of the spouses* siMbg 
configurations should yield two identical expresfflbus in eases of 
optimal fit, and only partial identity, or EOTe at afl, i afl other 



cases. Thus b(g)/(b)g will change to b(g)/g(b) after conversion 
of rank order, and to b(g)/b(g) after conversion of sexes (in the 
wife's sibling configuration). Similarly b(b,g)/(b,g)g will change 
to b(b,g)/g(g,b) and to b(b,g)/b(b,g), and example 3, (b,g)b 
(g)/(b)g(b 5 g) to (b*)b(g)/(&b)g(b) and to (b,g)b(g)/(b,g)b 
(g). In all three cases "subtraction" after the two transformations 
would yield zero on both sides, 

Example 1, on the other hand, will be transformed from (g) 
b/(g)g(b) to (g)b/(b)g(g) and to (g)b/(g)b(b), and subtrac 
tion would leave a remainder; b(b), or to be precise: 0/0,b(b). 
This relationship, translated back to (g)g, would be the one in 
the wife's sibling configuration that is not duplicated in her 
marriage. If the husband had a younger sister in addition, and the 
wife an older brother,(g)b(g)/(b,g)g(b) would change after two 
transformations to (g)b(g)/(g)b(b,g). Subtraction would also 
leave b(b) or, retranslated, (g)g as remainder. Compared to 
example 1, however, "dilution'* is smaller. Of three (in general: 
n-1) sibling relationships that the wife has had, two are perfect 
matches for the sibling relationships of the partner, whereas only 
one of the two sibling relationships that the wife has had in 
example 1 is matched by her partner; or of altogether five sibling 
relationships that the spouses have brought into their marriage, 
only one found no duplicate, whereas in example 1, one of three 
such relationships found no duplicate. 

Example 2, b(g,g)/(g,g)g(g) changes to b(g,g)/(b)b(b,b} 
aftear two transformations, and subtraction will make no difference. 
The reuaainder, after retranslation, will be the original expression. 
None of the altogether five sibling relationships that the spouses 
brought into their marriage found a duplicate there. Yet with the 
same numbers of siblings, things could even be worse. If example 
2 would change to b(b,b}/g(gg,g), two transformations will yield 
b(b^b)/(b^jb)b before retransktion, which symbolizes a com 
plete rank and sex conflict. If the example would change to b{g,g) 
/g(bjb,b), two transformations will yield b(g^)/(g^,g)b, which 
would indicate a rank conflict, but no sex: conflict* And if it would 
change to b(g,g)/(b,g)g(g), transfonBatkm to b(g,g)/(b)b(b,g} 


indicates a partly optimal match, the remainder being b(g)/(b)b 
(b), or rather b(g)/(g)g(g) after retranslation. 

It may often be found desirable to include the parents. Alge 
braically this could be done by writing the husband's parents' 
match on one side and that of the wife's parents on the other side 
of the "equation" that represents the couple in question. Hence 
b(g)/g(b)//b(g)/(b)g//b(g)/( g )g would mean that the hus 
band's father was the older brother of a sister and had been mar 
ried to the older sister of a brother, whereas the wife's parents 
had been the older brother of a sister and the younger sister of a 

The conflicts prevailing among each parental couple can be 
treated as indicated. Rank and sex are transformed, correspond 
ingly, for one side of each marriage of the expression. Our example 
would yield b(g)/(g)b//b(g)/b(g)//b(g)/b(b), and after sub 
traction, but before retranslation: b(g)/(g)b//0/0//b(g)/b(b). 
This would show that the couple in question has been optimally 
matched, but has "inherited" conflicts from the parents. Another 
example, b(g)/(b)g(g)//b(b}/g(b^)//( g )b/g(b), would yield 
b( g )/(b)b( g )//b(b)/(b,g)b//( g )b/{g)b, and 0/(b)b,Q//b(b}/ 
(b,g)b//Q/0, and demonstrate a kind of opposite constellation: 
the parents are well matched, but the couple in question has con 
flicts over rank and sex. 

In order to trace conflicts prevailing between the partners ia 
question and their parental identification figures, eoiafigaratioBS on 
corresponding sides of each equation can be subtracted for two 
adjacent marria g es at a time. Tbe first example woidd yield 0/g 
(b)//0/(b)g and 0/(b}g//0/(g)g for remainder and ti^ second 
example b(g)/(b) gy O//b(-b)/g(b} and b(b}/0 i g{g)//{g}b/0. 
In the first case the husband would have no identification cxmffict 
with his father, but his wife would with* his mother. He would afeo 
have no identification conflict with his fatber-in-law but fals wife 
would with her own mother. In the second example the husband 
would be in an identification conflict with his father and father-in- 
law, whereas Ms wife would be in partial conflict with her motfaer- 
in-law and her own mother, 


In order to establish conflicts prevailing between the partners 
in question and their opposite-sex parents or parents-in-law, con 
figurations on corresponding sides of each equation must be trans 
formed in rank and sex for two adjacent pairs at a time. Besides, 
the order of partners must be reversed for one of the two pairs. 
For the example 1 this yields b(g)/(g)b//b(g)/b(g) and b{g) 
/b(g)//b(b)/b(g). After subtraction, the remainders are 0/(g) 
b//0/b(g) and b(g)/0//b(b)/0. This means that the wife has no 
conflict with her father-in-law or with her father, whereas the 
husband does have conflicts with his mother-in-law and his mother. 
The second example would yield b(g)/(b)b(g)//(b,g)b/b(b) 
and b(b)/(b,g)b//(g)b/(g)b, and after subtraction b(g)/(b) 
b(g)//(b,g)b/b(b) and b(b)/(b)b,0//(g)b/0, respectively. This 
means that the wife has no conflict with her own father, but does 
with her father-in-law, and that the husband is neither on good 
terms with his mother nor his mother-in-law. 

In all cases the relative number of zeros indicates the harmony 
or disharmony within the relationship in question. 

For obvious reasons, inclusion of the parents will be imperative 
with persons who happen to be only children. Such a person's 
marriage may be represented, e.g., by [b(g)/(b)g]/(b)g which, 
incidentally, would represent an optimal match among the person's 
parents as well as an optimal match between him and his wife. 
If the sex of the person in question should also be designated the 
above expression could be written like this: [b(g)/b/(b)g]/ 
(b)g. Among the worst matches possible would be the following: 
[<b)b/b/(g)g]/(g)g, or even [(b)b/b/( g )g]/[(b)b/g/(g)g]. In 
other words, the match between an only child of a younger brother 
of a brother married to the younger sister of a sister, and the 
younger sister of a sister, or even the same only child married to 
another only child in precisely the same predicament. In cases of 
optimal matches among an only child's parents it might be found 
sufficient to designate his own (missing) sibling configuration by 
that of his same-sex parent, since that parent is the one whom he 
will tend to grow after the most. Thus [b(g)/(b)g]/(b)g could 
also be written as [b(g)]//(b)g. 

It may often be desirable to include also the children that a 


couple happens to have. Their configuration may duplicate that of 
one, or both, parents, or it may fall short of it by all degrees and 
thereby precipitate conflicts in additon to those already prevailing. 
We might designate b(g)/b,g/(b)g to be the marriage between 
an older brother of a sister and the younger sister of a brother who 
have had two children, a boy and a (younger) girl. Subtracting 
the children's configuration will leave 0/b,g/Q, which means that 
the children create no conflicts for their parents. With b(g)/b,g/g 
(b), subtraction will yield 0/b,g/g(b), which means that the 
mother will have a rank conflict not only with her husband, but 
also with her children. She would wish for her son to become a 
younger brother, and for her daughter to become an older sister. 
Family (g)b/b,g/g(b) will permit no subtraction even though 
the parents are optimally matched. Both of them would have rank 
conflicts with their children. In family b(b)/g,b/g(g) there will 
be sex conflicts in addition. Neither parent is prepared for the 
heterosexual sibling relationship of their children. Family b{gjbjij) 
/g,b,b/(b)g(b), after subtraction, would be b(gj>)/g,b,b/(b)g, 
indicating that both father and mother find one of their sibling re 
lationships duplicated with their children. Obviously, the number 
of (dual) sibling relationships that parents find duplicated with 
their children, expressed in proportion to the number of (dual) 
sibling relationships that they brought into their marriage, will be 
a measure of the amount of conflict which the configuration of 
their children will create for them. 

Age distances in a sibling cofifiguratioti can be represented by 
indices. Thus (b$,b2,gi)b(g7,gi} would mean that the person has 
brothers nine and two years older than himself, a sister ose year 
older, and two sisters seven and nine years younger than himself. 
Often it -may be sufficient to designate only the age distances 
between any direct neighbors in a sibling configuration that are, 
say, greater than six years. A semicolon could do that. Hence the 
sibling configuration above could also be written in the fdU0wBig 
manner: (b;b,g)b(;g,g). 

Step- and half-siblings could also be indexed as such. SMiig 
configuration (b s ,g)g(b,r>ii} would mean that a giri has am older 
stepbrother, an older sister, a younger brother and a sti! 


half-brother. One of her parents brought her stepbrother into their 
marriage, and later one of her parents remarried, presumably 
because of loss of the other parent, and had another son* 

Finally, losses of persons constituting one's family constellation 
could be designated by dots put on top of the lost person, i.e., of 
his- algebraic representation. One dot could indicate that the loss 
occurred during one's late childhood and adolescence, and two that 
it occurred even sooner. Thus b(b,g)/(g)g//(g)b(g)/g,g,b/(b, 
b)g//(b)b/[l)/(b)g(g)] would mean that the middle brother of 
two sisters, the son of an oldest brother of a brother and a sister 
(the latter of whom died in his late childhood) and the younger 
sister of a sister, married the youngest sister of two brothers (the 
older of whom died in her early childhood), the daughter of the 
younger brother of a brother and an only-child mother (who 
happened to be the daughter of an only-child father who died in 
her late childhood, and a mother who had a senior brother and a 
junior sister, the latter of whom died in the mother's late child 
hood); and they have three children, two girls and a boy. With 
respect to losses, however, the notation suggested may prove insuf 
ficient except as a preliminary shorthand method of designation. 
The number of losses relative to the number of (dual) relation 
ships that constitute a family constellation will be a measure of 
the degree to which they conae to bear on the person in question. 

If the sibling configuration of a person's parents were not 
known, f and m could designate father and mother respectively. 
In practice these symbols will mostly be used for a person's grand 
parents- if at all. In case any of the grandparents have died or been 
lost otherwise during a parent's early or late childhood, this should 
always be recorded. Thus [f/b(g)/m]/g,b/(g,b)g represents a 
family configuration in which the husband has lost his father in 
his early childhood and his mother in his late childhood. The 
wife has suffered no early losses. They have two children, a girl 
and a younger boy. This coeld also be written in the following 

Friendships between persons of the same sex could be written 
and handled in similar ways, although transformation of ranks 
only will be enough for a test of fit. Thus b(bj>)/(bjb)b would 


yield b(b,b)/b(b,b) or 0/0, which would be an optimal match. 
Identical positions such as b(b,b)/b(b,b) or fg)g/(g)g would 
make for strong conflicts of rank, represented also by transforma 
tions to b(b,b)/(b,b)b or (g)g/g(g), respectively. Heterosexual 
sibling relationships, on the other hand, should create conflicts over 
the (same) sex of the friend regardless of rank complementarity. 
Thus b(g)/(g)b, although yielding b(g)/b(g) after rank transfor 
mation, will not be an optimal fit because of the girls. Each friend 
would tend to transform the other into a girl, or rather not to 
become friends to begin with. They might become friends with 
each other's sisters instead. Friendship b(b,g)/(b,g)b, however, 
would indicate a partly optimal fit, and so would b(b,g)/(gjb)b. 
In fact, the latter might even be better. 

Trios, quartets, etc,, could also be handled in these ways. Rela 
tionship [b(b)/(b)b/{g,b)b] would designate the friendship be 
tween the older brother of a brother, the younger brother of a 
brother, and the younger brother of a sister and a brother. The 
fit would have to be evaluated by matching every member against 
every other like this: b(b)/(b)b, (b)b/(g,b)b, and b(b)/(gjb)b. 
Transforming the ranks for the same side of each match yields 0/0, 
(b)b/b(b,g), and 0/0,b(g) before retranslation. The number of 
zeros relative to the number of relationships would indicate how 
good a trio, quartet, etc., it is, and the remainders would spell out 
the conflicts that continue to prevail. 

It is feasible, of course, to treat any of the equations represent 
ing heterosexual or homosexual relationships in terms of ranks 
only, regardless of sex, and in terms of sex only, regardless of rank. 
This is actually how the remainders of the examples above lmv& 
been interpreted implicitly as to the kinds of ootiil^ts tjmt tfaey 


Formulas of Family Constellation 

Sometimes it may be found necessary to express the conflicts 
involved in interpersonal relationships more precisely than the 
algebra of family constellation would permit by itself, although the 
latter will probably continue to be useful as a system of designation. 

The degree of sex conflict prevailing in a marriage can be 
expressed for each spouse by d 8 , the coefficient of sex distribution, 
as a function of the number of his same-sex siblings (n s ) over the 
number of his siblings: 

d ^ n s (1) 

8 n 1 

In formula (1), n is the number of children that constitute a 
spouse's own sibling configuration. Hence in b(g,b)/(b)g the 
husband's sex conflict would be 0.50, whereas in b(b,b)/(b)g it 
would be 1, i.e., maximum, and in b(g,g)/(b)g it would be zero. 
In b(b,b,g)/(b)g his sex conflict would be 0.67, and the same 
would hold of b(g,b,b)/(b)g, although proximity of the sister is 
ignored thereby. In all of these examples the wife's sex (and rank) 
conflict is zero. 

The degree of overall sex conflict (ds m ) prevailing in a mar 
riage could be expressed by 

d m = ds b + da g (2) 

whereby d is the husband's sex-distribution coefficient, and d* 

J b S 

the wife's. The maximum value of d s is 2. 




Similar considerations would hold for rank conflicts. If there 
is one at all, it would have to be multiplied by d r , the coefficient 
of rank distribution, expressed by the difference between the 
number of junior and the number of senior siblings over the mnn- 
ber of siblings of the person in question: 

In formula (3), njun is the number of siblings that are juniors to 
the person in question, and n s en the number of siblings that are 
senior. If d r is positive, we are dealing with a person who is more 
of a senior himself. If d r is negative, he is more of a junior, 
The absolute value of d r indicates how much. Thus (b)b(gj>) 
would have a value of d r = 0.33, and (b,g)g a value of dr == -1. 
The man would be somewhat of a senior, and the woman a com 
plete junior. 

In analogy to formula (2) the overall rank conflict that would 
prevail if those two, or any two for that matter, got married, would 
be expressed by 

Therefore (b)b(gjb)/(b,g)g would have an overall rank conflict 
of 0.33 1 = 0.67, i.e., a certain degree of juniority conflict 
The couple would remain somewhat in need of a session Similarly 
b(g,b*g)/g(bg) would have an overall rank conflict of 2, Le., tbe 
maximum of a seniority conflict in which both will seek (or try 
to transform the other into) a junior, whereas, e.g, (g)b/(b)g 
would have 2, the maximum of a juniority conflict; b(g)/(b)g 
would be zero in rank conflict, and so would be (b^)b(g)/ 

Formulas (3) and (4) could also be taken 10 refer merely to 
siblings of the opposite sex. Rank rektioesfaips to these wstdd 
tend to matter more in a marriage than rank fela&msfajps to 
sanie-sex siblings. Such treatment would at least be feasible* if dt 
andi d* are considered coucomitantly. 


Another kind of conflict will result from the fact that uaarriage, 


at least in most parts of the civilized world, is a relationship 
between no more than two people, whereas sibling configurations 
may, within reason, be composed of any number of persons (n). 
Hence marriage will, for many people, differ in number from peer 
relationships they had at home. The discrepancy coefficient (d n ) 
expresses the relationship 

In this formula the numerator should actually be n n m , where 
n m would be the number of people that constitute a marriage. But 
as long as neither polygamy, polyandry, nor a combination of 
the two, are customary, formula (5) is sufficient. Single children 
will, of course, show negative values. They get literally more in 
marriage than they had at home. With spouses having one sibling 
only, d n will be zero. The larger n, the closer will dn approxi 
mate 1. 

For a marriage as a whole overall discrepancy in number would 
be expressed by d n , the discrepancy coefficient of husband and 
wife together: 

dn Ida + dn (6) 

m 1 b S v ' 

Thus with 2 being the asymptotic maximum of d n , a match such 

as b(b)/(g)g will represent a discrepancy of zero, b(g,g,g,g)/ 
(b)g one of 0.60, b(g,g)/{b,b)g one of 0.67, and b(g,g,g,g)/ 
(b4>,g)g one of 1.10, whereas b/(b,b)g would be equal to 1.33* 
Note that only absolute values are added in formula (6). 

Formulas (5) and (6) could also be taken to refer merely to 
siblings of the opposite sex. In that case n would be equal to the 
number of opposite-sex siblings plus one. 

Still another kind of conflict concerns the degree to which the 
configuration of children duplicates their parents* sibling configu 
rations. This could be expressed: 

T -I Bd / 7V 

Ocu 1 (i) 

n 1 


In formula (7) cU is the coefficient of conflict between a person's 
sibling configuration and the configuration of his children; iw would 
be the number of (dual) sibling relationships of a parent that 
have found (one or more) duplicates in his children, and n would 
be the number of children that constitute the parent's own sibling 
configuration. With b(g,b,b)/g,b,b/(b)g(b) the husband would 
have two relationships, b(b) and b(b), repeated with his children. 
Hence dci^ = 0.33. The wife would find only one relationship 
repeated, namely, g(b). Therefore dU = 0.50. 

As an alternative to formula (7), the following formula may be 

In this formula, n ^ n "~ ' would be the number c?f all dual rela 

tionships that prevail among n children constituting a parent's 
sibling configuration, including those of which the parent is not 
an immediate partner; n<i' would be the number of all those of 
their dual relationships that find duplication in any of the rela 
tionships prevailing among their children. With formula (8) the 
example used above would yield d c n = 0.17 and ddi = 0*33, Yet 

r J b t 

formula (7) is not only simpler, but probably just as meaningful. 

Note that the number of children that the parents have is not 
reflected directly in either formula. If parents b(g) and {b)g 
should have five children, say b,g,b,b,g, their d*& values wodld 
be the same as if they had just two children, say b,g. If tfaeir chil 
dren are to be included explicitly, formula (7) would have to be 
rewritten to read as follows: 

a'(n' 1) 

In this formula n' would be the number of children that tibe 
parents have, and n'<s the number of al dual rektio&stips piwafl- 


ing among their children for which the given parent has (one or 
more) duplicates in his own sibling configuration. Hence example 
b(g,b,b)/g,b,b/(b)g(b) would yield dch fe = 0.18 and d c n g = 0.29. 

Example b(g)/b,g,b,b,g/(b)g, however, would yield values of 0.37 
for both parents, whereas with b(g)/b,g/(b)g, d c n would be zero 
for both of them. 

In most cases, especially where the number of siblings that 
constitute each parent's sibling configuration and the number of 
children they have themselves are not too grossly different, for 
mula (7) will be sufficient. After all, the chances of duplication 
of the parents' own sibling relationships will tend to be greater, 
the larger the number of their own children. Hence the latter is 
at least indirectly taken into account anyway. Besides, parents 
may continue having children regardless of whether they have 
already got the constellations of children they wanted or not. In 
the first case they are trying again because all went so well; in the 
second, they keep trying. 

For a marriage as a whole the degree to which the configuration 
of children duplicates their parents' sibling configurations is ex 
pressed by: 

d^ =dch +dch (10) 

m b S 

Thus dch m of b(g,b,b)/g,b,b/(b)g(b) would be 0.47, of b(g)/ 
b,g r b,b,g/(b)g, 0.74, and of b(g)/b,g/(b)g, zero. 

A compound rank and sex estimate of conflict prevailing in a 
particular match is expressed by 

d r 



If discrepancy in number (d n ) and conflict with the configuration 
0f cMlcfraj are also to be included, the estimate of all conflict 
existent in a given marriage is expressed by: 



t Us , r , n , ch 

m m m m 

d. + d r 


i (12) 

The maximum values of both d s r and dt are equal to 2, al- 

m, m * 

though dt will approach it only asymptotically. The minimum 
values are zero. An example of dt = would be bfg) /b,g/(b)g. 

Relationships between people of the same sex, i.e., homosexual 
friendships, can be treated analogously. As a matter of fact, for 
mulas for d r and d n (formulas 3, 4, and 5, 6, respectively) would 
remain the same, except that they might, as an alternative, be 
computed from the same-sex siblings only, rather than from ail 
siblings. In formulas (1) and (2), however, n a should be the 
number of opposite-sex siblings rather than same-sex siblings,, 
whereas formulas (7-10) would not apply at all. Therefore dt 
would read like this: 

ds + I dr I 4- dn 


In formulas (11, 12, 13) the denominator is obviously equal to 
the number of coefficients that are being pooled. 

There is one more all-important characteristic that must be 
included in these considerations: final losses occurring among the 
people that constitute a person's family constellation. Not that 
there would not be all kinds of other losses, too. Temporary sepa 
rations, illness, surgery, physical attacks, seductions, etc., all te&d 
to have specific traumatic effects on the victim, but generally these 
are small compared to final losses. So powerful are final losses 
that even if only the parents have been afflicted by them, tfaey 
may still come down to the person in question. A significant 
aspect of what he experiences and thinks of such a toss is kw 
the parents or even his own siblings have taken it 

The following formulas attempt to capture the rales by wfciefa 
these final losses abide: 



ajt (16) 

k a a\/a(n 1) 

In these formulas, I stands for the overall cumulative loss a person 
has suffered; Zi stands for any of n? individual losses suffered; 
k is the measure of each individual loss. As for the determinants 
of k, ai is the age of the person lost, a& the age of the oldest per 
son in the immediate family. The ratio az/a could be called the 
age coefficient. The length of time that the lost person has lived 
with the person in question is represented by t; a is the person's 
own age. All of the determinants of k can be measured in years 
for the time at which the loss occurred. The number of persons 
that constitute the family (including parents, siblings, and the 
person in question) is represented by n. 

In order to take into account what a given loss has done to the 
balance of sexes in the family, Zi should be multiplied by the 
reciprocal of c, where c is the change of sex balance coefficient: 

C=l (Sb 8.) (17) 

n 9 
L (18) 

8= g 

In formula (17), s& stands for s after occurrence of the loss, and 
% for s before the loss. In formula (18), s is the sex balance 
coefficient, n* the number of persons in the entire family that are 

of tiie lost person's sex, and n the number of persons that constitute 
Ae fainily. Perfect balance will yield s = 0.50. The larger the c 
(winch, of course, wiH scatter around 1 in its empirical values), 


the smaller the effect of the loss in question. Hence formula (14) 
should actually read like this: 

, _ **JL ( 19 ) 

~~ 1=1 CI 

An example shall illustrate this briefly. Suppose the older sister 
of a sister has lost her mother at the age of 4 years. The mother 
was 30, the father 33, her sister 2 years old at that time. 

(30) (4) 1 

Hence k = ; v _ ; = 0.15. Therefore = 6.6, 

(33) 4V4(3) k 

log = 0.82, and h= 1.22. The change of sex balance coefficient 

3 2 
c would be c = 1 ( ) =: 0.92. Hence k as computed 

by formula (19) would be Zi = 1.33. Had father been lost instead, 

c would have been equal to c = 1 ( ), and k aceord- 

4 3 

ingly larger (li = 1.64, if we ignore the changes that this situa 
tion would also create in k). 

If that girl should also lose her sister, say, five years later and 
after her father had remarried a woman his junior and turned 38, 
her sister 7, and she herself 9, and another child, a boy, had bee 
born to them 3 years ago, the following values would result: 

(7) (7) 1 1 1 

k = ~=- = . Therefore = 82, log = L91, 

(38) 9 V^ (4) 82 k ^ k 

3 2 

and 6 = 0.52. Now c would be c = I { ) = 0.90. 

5 4 

Therefore k would be 0.58 according to formula (19). And the 
overall loss I that this girl has suffered would be I = 1.33 + 0*52 = 

One might argue that in these formulas substitution of auditor 
person for the lost one has not been aooomledl for, This m not 
quite true, though. If no new person is remitted to take th tost 
place, the remaining o&es wiB, of necessity, substilsiie for 


that person. Only if a family should consist of no more than two 
persons in all, mother and child, would the loss of the mother 
leave nobody to substitute for her. In that case, however, the 
child would have small chances of survival. In terms of our for 
mulas, a 4 year old's predicament of this kind would yield k = %, 

1 21 
log = 0.30, and k = 3.33. Since c = 1 ( ) = 1, 6 

K. ^ j. 

would be the same also by formula (19). This is plausible in the 
sense that the loss of the mother will not change anything in the 
balance of sexes. There was no male to begin with, and there is 
none now. If that child were only one year old instead, the following 

values would result: k = 1, log ~ 0, and l\ oo. 


If a new person takes the lost person's place for good, any 
subsequent loss will reflect this fact as it did in our example. If 
new persons substitute only temporarily, such as in the case of 
hired personnel, nurses, maids, tutors, and the like, each change 
will, in a sense, be an additional, though small, loss and appear 
as such in our computations. It may be desirable, however, to 
include the present age of the person in question. After all, the 
effectiveness of losses does seem to fade as time goes by. Hence 
formula (19) should perhaps be rewritten to read: 

ci (20) 

In this formula, a p would be the present age (in years) of the 
person in question. 

The amount of loss prevailing in a marriage (or, mutatis 
mutandis, in any interpersonal relationship) would be equal to 
the sum of losses suffered by its partners: 

Jm^fc + fe (21) 

In foramk (21) k> is the loss suffered by the husband, and 4 the 
loss suffered by the wife. 

At this point an overall formulation shall be ventured in which 


the conflicts over rank, sex, number of siblings, and configurations 
of children as well as losses suffered are included: 


d r 




In formula (22) P m expresses the overall prognosis for a match. 
All other symbols have already been explained. P m will vary 
between zero and infinity, but the vast majority of cases will be 
between values of 0.1 and 100, and a large bulk of them between 
0,5 and 20. The smaller P m , the better the prognosis. 

Losses that a person's parents have suffered could, of course, 
be included, too. In fact, the same would hold for all conflicts 
that they may have had over rank, sex, number of siblings, and 
configurations of children. Hence rather than compute the parents* 
influence in each of the component measures of Pm, the values of 
P m could be computed for the parents, the grandparents, the great- 
grandparents, etc., and added to P m of a given couple. Formula 
(23) describes the relationship: 


Pm =p m + - i + - ! + _^ + etc. (23) 

4 16 256 

Here Pm would express the overall prognosis of a match when the 
matches of ancestors are considered, too. PE^ would be the sum 
of values of Pm computed for the husband's and the wife's parents, 
P m the sum of values of Pm computed for all four grandjfmmilal 
marriages, Pm s the sum of value of P computed for afl eight 
great-grandparental marriages, etc. In practice It wil be fe 
though, that the third summaud is usualy quite small, and 
fourth one already negligible. As a matter of fact, it wiB prdb 
suffice to use formula (22), at least as long as l t is mtotitotaA 
for lm, and to compute L in analogy toP*^. 

As for losses affecting relationships between persons of the saw* 
sex, formulas (14-21) would !>e applicable as well, ahhoo^i km 
formulas (19) and (20) would have to fee mdtipffed i>y 


than by the reciprocal of c. On the other hand, formula (14) 
may be considered sufficient by itself. In formula (22) dt would 
have to be computed from, formula (13) rather than from for 
mula (12). 

It may also be of interest to compare the amount of conflict 
prevailing in a present match with the amounts inherent in the 


matches of each spouse's parents. If is larger than Pm, the 

spouses would be on the road to relatively greater happiness, and 
vice versa. Their P m values need not be small per se. It is not 
easy for a person to free himself of his family constellation under 
all circumstances, even if his parents have been quite poorly 
matched for each other. The farther he tries to break away, the 
closer may he ultimately find himself to the original situation 
(see also page 167). His home may have been an unhappy one, 
but it was still the only one he had. Therefore, a moderate im 
provement of his own match over that of his (poorly matched) 
parents will often be more reliable than a radical change resulting 
in values of Pm close to zero. Other circumstances could be so 
much at odds, that they might upset the relationship. Besides, the 
person is not used to smooth relationships, and will tend to rough 
any up. He will try to create the conflicts that are not there at 

Concluding this chapter, I want to advise caution, particularly 
in the use of the formulas. They are only approximations, no more. 
Some of the relationships postulated, such as the summation the 
orem implicit in many of the formulas, could be questioned, al 
though aE empirical checks made by the author seemed to be 
compatible with it. The best use that can be made of these for 
mulas will not be with individual cases, but with groups of people, 
however small. The formulas may permit comparisons and psy 
chological evaluations of a kind not inherent in other devices. 


If by now the reader has become an enthusiast of this game, 
I would like to warn him. What the game reveals can be passed 
out to others friends, relatives, especially parents only with tact 
and careful consideration. Even then the reader will find that he 
may have to pay pen Ities. He has conveyed something relevant, 
perhaps something eminently meaningful, he thinks, and yet they 
know him no thanks. In fact, they may sometimes get outright 
angry and refuse to play the game. Try not to get as far as that, 
but if you have, turn off the "heat" as soon as you realize it. 
Give them time. Let them think it over. Don't bring up the 
subject when you meet them the next time. Wait until they begin 
to ask questions. Give them this book to read, if they want to. 

If, on the other hand, the reader should be appalled, scared, 
or annoyed by the prospects advanced, I advise him to put the 
book aside and let the matter rest for a while. (Maybe someone 
else would want to look at the book in the meantime.) Let me 
assure you, though, that you will not have to get a divorce, break 
off your friendships, file law suits for or against parents, change 
your profession, your philosophy, even your children, or go back 
to an early love of yours, just because the book seems to imply 
that. Remember that you have been playing this game before you 
ever read this book. You need not now apply its rales and prin 
ciples to your own affairs. You ham already done so. The book 
has merely made you more conscious of them, and unless you have 
learned to understand clearly what kinds of "hands" aad gan*es 
you have played in the past and what kinds your parents liave 
played y OU are in no better position to zaanipdate your futoe 
than a person who has never heard of this game. And let me asms 
you further that there is no hand whatsoever Aat ootiH not, in 
principle, be good for some kind of workable game, and no gae 
in progress that could not be continued and possibly rapped. 

Does this book affect individual freedom and dignity? I 
believe it does: it increases both. All faowtedge doe, no 
how shattering it may appear to the ignorant and 


As for the empirical evidence which is (as indicated on pages 
20 and 128) based on clinical and diagnostic contacts with some 
four hundred cases, I would be among the first to claim that the 
investigation must go on. I have only presented the general struc 
ture of the theory and those details that have come most validly 
to my notice. I am also aware that the forces and patterns of 
family constellation interact with hereditary givens, such as vitality, 
intelligence, or special talents, and also with the broader environ 
ment, as represented by socio-economic, educational, ethnic or 
even political determinants on one hand and a person's anatomy, 
physiology, accidental pathology, etc., on the other. These inter 
actions will also have to be studied more elaborately, although 
in my experience the forces and patterns of family constellation 
come through quite strong in every one of these interactions. 

It should also be mentioned that a number of specific experiments 
have been conducted to test some derivative assumptions. 

One assumption was that patients seeking and receiving psy 
chotherapy should, on the whole, come from parents who have been 
matched more poorly, by the duplication criterion (see page 6), 
than would be expected by chance. Experiences of loss should also 
prevail among them or their parents to a greater than average 
degree. This was found to be true with three samples: one of 40 
adult patients, one of 20 children frequenting a counselling center, 
and one of 93 children taken from three psychological guidance 
centers (Toman 1959b, c, Toman and Gray 1961). 

Another assumption was that same-sex friendships should tend 
to duplicate the friends' sibling relationships in cases of mono- 
sexual sibling configurations, and that they should tend not to 
form in the first place in cases of heterosexual sibling configurations 
on both sides or in cases of identical sibling positions. This was 
borne out with a sample of friendships formed in a high school class 
of 35 boys (Toman 1959b) and to an extent with a sample of 102 
friendships formed among female college students (Gray I960). 

Still another assumption was that good and poor marriages, 
as defined solely by the degree to which the partners duplicate or 
fail to duplicate sibling positions for one another, should differ 
as to time of formation and overall success. The poor marriages 
nevertheless lasted) should be entered at a later age of the 


partners, the partners should be less successful professionally, and 
they should have fewer children. This was confirmed with a sample 
of 8 good and 7 poor matches (Toman 1960a). 

Still another assumption was that divorced couples should tend 
to fail to duplicate for one another sibling positions they held at 
home. This tendency should be less marked with couples who 
stayed married for longer periods of time and had children. Losses 
generally among the reasons for poorer choices of friends, part 
ners, or spouses were expected to exceed chance at least in those 
cases where failure of couples to duplicate sibling positions for one 
another was less pronounced. All of this turned out to be so with 
a sample of 16 divorces (Toman 1961 ). 

Finally, an unusual choice of profession (i.e., unmarried foster- 
mother for a group of some nine children all coming from broken 
homes who lives with the children in Children's Villages, a Central 
European institution) was expected to show among the persons 
concerned (the foster-mothers): large numbers of siblings, a pre 
dominance in number of females over males among them, and, 
most important, losses suffered that would have had to be severe 
enough to make them wish to do something for orphans, but not 
so severe as to render them unable to. This was found to be true 
with a sample of 14 women, as compared to a control group of 
women working in Children's Villages in other capacities* How 
ever, those in the control group, who had wanted to become foster- 
mothers but never made the grade, had suffered the severest losses 
(loss of both parents in early childhood). (Toman 195%.) 

Although life data things accomplished, interpersotimi rela 
tionships formed, losses suffered, etc* have been treated tbrofigii- 
out this book as something better than test data, it was asiiie*l 
that self-rating or projective personality tests would reflect efanms- 
teristics of sibling positions that have been outlined, piwwfed Ae 
tests have been tuned to issues sueli as nelatioiis to work, 
authority, the opposite sex, the same seat* dtikfan, tos ete* 
provided also that enough care is exercised in sefeetisg the 
jects. Their parents as well as losses suffered iiy them or tte 
subjects themselves will have to be given ssideFmti**ii t 
if merely in order to establish that the seta! has leea 

This assumption fraceabiltf of characteristics *rf 


sition through personality tests was confirmed with 36 subjects 
in a projective test allowing objective evaluation (picture arrange 
ment). Subjects in senior positions with respect to their siblings 
behaved significantly different from those in junior positions 
(Gray I960). 

It is evident, on the other hand, that the data of family con 
stellation could be considered test data themselves. What is more, 
they merely have to be asked for, are usually given freely and take 
a few minutes to establish. If evaluated with the help of the theory 
advanced in this book, they might well be more powerful and 
predictive than any known psychological test taking the same 
amount of time or even much longer to administer. 

Other studies bearing on problems of family constellation (e.g., 
Herman 1933, Damrin 1949, Fischer 1952, Goodenough and Leahy 
1927, Guilford and Worcester 1930, Hooker 1931, Helen L. Koch 
1955a,b, 1956ajb,c, 1958, Krout 1939, Lasko 1954, Levy 1931, Mar- 
tensen-Larsen 1956, 1957, Meltzer 1941, Patterson and Zeigler 1941, 
Rosenow 1930, Sears 1950, Shield and Grigg 1944, Stagner and 
Katzoff 1936, Wile and Jones 1937), all conducted before the 
present theory had been available publicly, have not infrequently 
been inconclusive, occasionally contradictory and, at any rate, 
too limited in theoretical and methodological scope. As a matter 
of fact, a few of them can be called paradigms of how to ask 
isolated questions haphazardly and work out some uninspired 
gimmick of a method to get no answer. These criticisms do not 
hold for studies that explored on a broader basis either some as 
pects of the basic constituents of family constellations, say, losses, 
(Bowlby 1951, Anna Freud and Dorothy T. Burlingham 1943), 
or many aspects beyond the basic constituents, even if the studies 
neglected the latter (e.g., Bossard 1956, Hollingshead 1950, Landis 
and Landis 1948, Locke 1951, Parsons 1951, Terman 1937, Winch 
and McGinnis 1953), Almost any study taking an articulate system- 
ajpproaeh seems to be more likely to torn up with worthwhile results 
m this infinitely complex field than any hundred little hit-or-miss 
studies with which the prof essioeal psychological literature abounds. 
Wei, the author of this book took a system-approach. Whether the 
Ifcspll has feeem wortfcwMb is* for the reacfa to decide. That it is 
only akegfaBing, the author has rasoired himself. 

Securing Data on Family Constellations 

For all research purposes the guide printed here should be followed as closely 
as possible. After a number of data collections, however, the instructions will 
probably have been assimilated by the record-taker who can then do without 

If an item or question of the guide does not quite apply to a person, the 
most meaningful approximation should be attempted. If, e,g., somebody is not 
legally married but is living with as well as providing for the family, consider 
him married. If he is not formally separated, yet neither living with nor even 
providing for the family, consider him separated. If somebody is not dead, but 
missing, consider him dead. If a person has foster parents, all of their data 
should be secured in analogy to those of the person's parents. 

If a person does not recall certain data precisely, he should estimate tiiera 
to the best of his knowledge. If he can give only some data, but not others, 
say only the death of a person but not his birth year, he should give whatever 
he can. If there is an opportunity to check doubtful data with relatives or 
people who might know, he should do so. In that case it may be practical to 
write up the questions for him that he should try to answer and have him 
contact the record-taker again by phone or mail. 

If a person is, or has ever been, married, be sure to secure data about his 
or her spouse's family constellation too. If the spouse is unavailable, have the 
person provide the information as best as he can. 

Guide for Securing Data 

1. State person's name (and maiden name), sex, date and place of birth, 
present address, home address, present profession, date of marriage^ (maidesi) 
name of spouse, date and place of birth of spouse, 

2. Ask person for his/her siblings (including those who have died, also 
step- and half -siblings) : tiietr first names, sex, age (a^, 3 years olifa, 5 yei 
younger than person), whether step- or half-slbiiiigs* wbdfoer dead, age at 
death, year of death, whether married, year of Hiarria$e(s) mad of ternftMftM* 
of marriage{s} through death of spouse, divoree, separation eie* {rn^e if 
through death). State for each sibling separately number of their cMMica 
(exclusive of stepchildren, but including tlieir owm cfeHdrw from al @$ their 
marriages, also those children wko have died), araber of sous*, m*lj*sr of 



3. Ask person for his/her father's name, date and place of birth, present 
address, present or last profession, year of marriage to person's mother and 
year of termination of marriage (e.g., 1928-55, or 1935-now), years of father's 
previous and/or subsequent marriages, year of father's death. Ask for person's 
father's siblings in analogy to (2) . 

4. Ask person for his/her mother's (maiden) name, date and place of birth, 
present address, present or last profession, years of her previous and/or 
subsequent marriages and terminations, year of her death. Ask for person's 
mother's siblings in analogy to (2). 

5a. Ask person for his/her paternal grandfather's name, year and place of 
birth, his chief residence, his chief profession(s), year of marriage to paternal 
grandmother and of its termination, year of his previous and/or subsequent 
marriages and terminations, year of his death, and inquire whether he had 
one or more older brothers, older sisters, younger brothers, younger sisters, 
and how many siblings in all. 

5b. Ask person for his/her paternal grandmother's (maiden) name, year 
and place of birth, her chief residence, etc., in analogy to (5a) . 

5c. Ask person for his/her maternal grandfather's name, etc., in analogy 
to (5a). 

5d. Ask person for his/her maternal grandmother's (maiden) name, year 
and place of birth, her chief residence, etc., in analogy to (5b) and (5a). 

6. Ask person for his/her children (including those who have died as well 
as stepchildren who live in his/her household) : their first names, sex, and 
birth years, whether stepchildren, whether dead, age at death, year of death, 
whether married, years of marriage (s) and termination (s) through death of 
spouse, divorce, separation, etc. (note if through death). State for each child 
separately: number of their children (exclusive of stepchildren, but Including 
their own children from all of their marriages, also those children who have 
died), number of sons, number of deaths. 

7. State date and place at which this record was taken; also name and 
address of record-taker. 


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